Tag Archives: #socialjustice

A note about our conflicting blog posts regarding Confederate Statues

A note from Randy Mayeux:
I am writing this to help readers understand some conflicting messages on this blog.


Since the beginning of the First Friday Book Synopsis in 1998,  I (Randy Mayeux) and Karl Krayer shared the presentations, and we each wrote on this blog.

A few years ago, Karl Krayer suffered a stroke, and has been unable to make synopses presentations at our monthly events, or write on this blog.  So, I have assumed full leadership of the First Friday Book Synopsis, have made two book synopses presentations each month at our monthly events. since his departure, and I have continued to write posts on this blog all along.

Karl has recently begun writing posts on this blog again.  We certainly welcome him back.  But I want to address what appears to be conflicting messages on this blog.

At the top of each post, it always says either “Randy’s blog entries” or “Karl’s blog entries.”  This is, of course, to identify the author of a post.  And Randy and Karl are the only two writers who post on this blog.

As in any collaboration, people have different opinions; sometimes on controversial issues.  In some recent posts from Karl, if one were to read other posts by me, you can see that we have a strong difference of opinion over the issue of Confederate Statues and Monuments, and even over whether or not people can change their minds over issues of racism.

I simply want to point out the obvious;  that we have these differences.

I do believe that Confederate Statues should be removed. I do believe that the Confederate Flag should not be displayed.  And, I do believe that people can change their minds on issues of race (and, other issues as well).  Karl believes the opposite, as he described in his recent posts.

Here’s an interesting note: I went to Abilene Christian University for my undergraduate degree (it was then called Abilene Christian College).  A few short years ago, the university issued a widely-distributed apology for their racism throughout much of their history.  The leadership of the university did change their minds over issues of racism.  And they needed to.  Abilene Christian did indeed have some pretty ghastly racist practices and stances in their history.

Yes, I do oppose symbols of racism, and that is what I believe Confederate Statues to be.

Here is a post that represents my thoughts, describing my strong opposition to Confederate Statues and the Confederate Flag: Two Flags, Two Meanings – The American flag and the Confederate flag.

Please note that I will be presenting synopses of books on racial issues over the next few months at the First Friday Book Synopsis; books that might even lead people to change their minds about issues of racism.

Why have this conversation at all on a blog focused primarily on business books and issues?   Because this issue touches every corner of business – relationships between employees, between employers and employees, between business and client representatives, and between business and its larger outreach in the community and overall culture.  Even within ourselves, we can develop deeper understanding of the issues involved.

In the coming months, as I present one synopsis of a business book and a second synopsis of a book dealing with issues of race at each of our First Friday Book Synopsis sessions,  I will be treating these books as I do in all other synopsis presentations.  My intent, as always, is to let the author speak through the words of his/her book.

Hopefully, these presentations will help us all come to better informed decisions, and wiser and more inclusive business policies, and yes, even better informed opinions within ourselves.

Issues of racial injustice have become quite a large conversation throughout our society.  I felt that I needed to explain my thoughts on the conflicting conversation one is currently reading on this blog.

Karl and I agree on far more than we differ.  But, in this moment, I felt that this word of explanation regarding this specific issue might be helpful.

It’s Time for some Honest Conversations on Race – I have a way to help

It’s Time!
We’ve let too many moments slip by.
This moment must be captured.
It’s time to have honest conversations
about race in your organization.
Here is a way to get that started.

I write this on Juneteenth, 2020.

We have put off change, a reckoning, for too long.  Things have gone unaddressed.  We have ignored the reality of racism throughout our culture.  People talk of “systemic racism.”  Yes, systemic; a good word.  Deep, abiding, multi-generational racism.

As we have read the news these least few weeks, we see that one way many, many people are responding is by following the impulse to become better informed.  To “educate themselves.”   People are reading books  — not just one, but quite a few books that seem to be written for this moment.

Don’t you think it would be helpful for your organization to have some honest conversations about race?  And don’t you think that these conversations would be more productive if they were informed by the best books that people are reading?

I can help.

I have been presenting comprehensive synopses of books on poverty, social justice, and racism for over fifteen years.  I have presented these for CitySquare, each month, at the Urban Engagement Book Club.  And I have also presented a few of these synopses for the Metro Dallas Homeless Alliance.

At our First Friday Book Synopsis, we have always presented two business books each month.  For the next few months, it will be one business book, and one book dealing with issues of racism.  I will begin with Stamped from the Beginning by Ibram X. Kendi at our July 3 gathering (on Zoom).

Please take a look at this flier.  Think about your needs.  I think what I offer can help you jump start some of those needed conversations for your leadership team, and others in your organization.

Let me know if I can help.

Click on image for full, printable view

Click on image for full, printable view

Download the Synopsis Handout for today’s Urban Engagement Book Club; Utopia for Realists – June 18, 2020, 12:30pm

June 18, 2020 – ZoomUtopia for Realists
One Book Synopses: Utopia for Realists:  How we can build the Ideal World by Rutger Bergman.
Where: on ZOOM
When: Thursday, June 18, 12:30 pm
The presentation will conclude by around 1:30 pm
Speaker: Randy Mayeux

Click here to join in on Zoom: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/85163475189


We are all set for today’s Remote Urban Engagement Book Club, Thursday, June 18..

#1 — Download, and print the synopsis handouts by clicking here.

If you have ever attended our event, you know that I am handout intensive. You really will be able to follow along better with a physical copy of the handout in front of you. So, if you have a printer, please print the handout.

#2 — Here is the info, with the link to join the gathering:

Randy Mayeux is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.
Topic: Urban Engagement Book Club, June, 2020
Time: Jun 18, 2020 12:30 PM Central Time (US and Canada)

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 851 6347 5189

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Dial by your location

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Meeting ID: 851 6347 5189

Find your local number: https://us02web.zoom.us/u/kdVGH33Vyr


Reminder: There is no cost for this meeting.

You might want to read this post. It has a printable one-sheet reminder on how to make the most of your remote learning experience.
Remote Learning 101 – Read this before attending your learning session.


Stamped from the Beginning by Ibram X. Kendi, and The Ride of a Lifetime by Robert Iger – Coming for the July 3 First Friday Book Synopsis (on Zoom)

First Friday Book Synopsis, July 3, 2020, on Zoom
Time:  7:30 am
Two Books:
Stamped from the Beginning by Ibram X. Kendi, and
The Ride of a Lifetime by Robert Iger
Link to join meeting: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/82787828459

Please invite one and all to participate in this session. 


For July 3, 2020 First Friday Book SynopsisI am breaking precedent for the July 3, 2020 First Friday Book Synopsis.  This is a time that calls for the breaking of precedent.

For 22+ years, we have focused almost exclusively on books that deal with business issues at the First Friday Book Synopsis.  Oh, there have been a few wanderings here and there, usually dealing with leadership in sports, or politics, and a few other books that might have seemed a little far afield.  But I have always kept the overall subject of business improvement and excellence and success in mind.

But, this is a moment that beckons us to pay special attention to a national problem and challenge. And, it certainly has implications for every business in America.

So, for July and August, and possibly for September and October, maybe even longer, I have chosen to tackle the issues dealing with race in America through my book selections.

If you were to ask me what is the most important book to read, I would pause, and ask you to reconsider your question.  This is an issue that requires more than any one book. You simply will not learn enough to tell you what you need to know with any one book.

Last week, I wrote a blog post about the current best sellers (read that post here).  Of the top 15 books on Amazon’s overall list of best–selling books Friday (they update this list hourly), twelve of the fifteen dealt with issues of race.

I am not “new” to this; I have some long-term interest in this subject.  I have presented books on racism, social justice, and poverty, each month for over 15 years at the Urban Engagement Book Club in Dallas, sponsored by CitySquare. And, in addition to the academic work I did on civil rights rhetoric in my graduate student days at the University of Southern California, my wife and I have taken our vacation trips in recent years to the civil rights cities of Atlanta, Birmingham, Selma, Montgomery, LIttle Rock, and Memphis.  In other words, I have paid attention to this issue for…decades.

For July, I have selected Stamped from the Beginning by Ibram X. Kendi.  It won the National Book Award the year it was published, 2016.

Though I was tempted to begin with his latest book, How to Be An Antiracist, I felt like this book provided needed history and context. So, I will present my synopsis of his newer book in August.

I am leaning toward following up with White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo, maybe in September.  And. among other books I am considering for this “series” are:  Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson, The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander, and possibly The Making of a Racist by Charles Dew.

And, there are so many others to read, to learn from, to ponder…

As for the business book that I have selected for July 3, I will present my synopsis of The Ride of a Lifetime by Roberg Iger, the man behind the last few years of Disney’s success. Bill Gates calls this one of the most important business books he has read in quite some time.  It is a book worth reading!

Our July 3 meeting will be on Zoom again; 7:30 am.  Please mark you calendar now.  (Meeting info is below). Come join us!


This meeting will be available to all for free.  If you care to participate financially, you might send $12.00 to the First Friday Book Synopsis thorough Pay Pal.  (Click here for a direct link to send money).
(Note: if you are a non-PayPal person, you can send money through Zelle by using my e-mail address, ).


Here is the information for the Zoom meeting.  Please save it to your calendar.

Randy Mayeux is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.
Topic: July 3, 2020 First Friday Book Synopsis
Time: Jul 3, 2020 07:30 AM Central Time (US and Canada)
Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 827 8782 8459
One tap mobile
+13462487799,,82787828459# US (Houston)
+16699006833,,82787828459# US (San Jose)

Dial by your location
+1 346 248 7799 US (Houston)
+1 669 900 6833 US (San Jose)
+1 253 215 8782 US (Tacoma)
+1 312 626 6799 US (Chicago)
+1 929 205 6099 US (New York)
+1 301 715 8592 US (Germantown)

Meeting ID: 827 8782 8459

Find your local number: https://us02web.zoom.us/u/kbACZGOWfK


Best Sellers among all books, with books on race topping the list – and, Here is the New York Times list of best selling business books for June, 2020; Atomic Habits still at #1

The New York Times has just published its June, 2020 list of best-selling business books.  It is a good list, that I will share below.

But, first, a few words about another best-sellers list.

StampedBeginningAmazon updates its list of best sellers every hour.  And, right now FrIday, June 5, around 10:30 am Central time, the best-sellers list has gone through quite a transformation.  Books on racism and racial issues, have risen to the top of their list.  Note:  this is not a “category” list.  This is best sellers among ALL books.  As of this hour, out of the top 15 books, notice these:

#1 – White Fragility: Why it’s so Hard for White People to Talk about Racism by Robin DiAngelo
#2 – So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo
#3 – How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi
#4 – We’re Different, We’re the Same by Bobbi Kates
#5 – Stamped from the Beginning by Ibram X. Kendi
#7 – The Color of Law:  A Forgotten History of How our Government Segregated America by Richard Rothstein
#8 – Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
#10 – The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander
#11 – Why are all the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria (And Other Conversations about Race) by Beverly Angela Tatum
#12 – Just Mercy:  A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson
#13 – Antiracist Baby by Ibram X. Kendi
(#15 – Becoming by Michelle Obama)


(I include the Michelle Obama book because it is the memoir of a black woman in America).

This is nothing short of remarkable.  You may have seen the story of the American Airlines CEO Doug Parker reading the book White Fragility while on a Southwest Airlines flight, and how that sparked quite a poignant conversation with an African American flight attendant.  (Click here to read that story).

White FragilityI have made the decision to present Stamped from the Beginning by Ibram X. Kendi at the next First Friday Book Synopsis (July 3), probably following up with other books dealing with racism in the months to follow.

In other words, this moment calls for serious study and reflection.  This Amazon best sellers list signals hope that people are actually studying and reflecting in a way that might be helpful.


Now, for my usual monthly “best-sellers blog post.” The New York Times has published its monthly list of best-selling business books.

this is the book that we started with in 2019

this is the book that we started with in 2019

Of these ten books, after our July First Friday Book Synopsis, we will have presented seven of the ten at our monthly First Friday Book Synopsis gatherings.  I have presented synopses of Atomic Habits, Dare to Lead, Outliers, and Extreme Ownership.  And, in July, I will present The Ride of a Lifetime.  And my former colleague, Karl Krayer, presented his synopses of Grit, and Thinking, Fast and Slow.

These presentations are given each first Friday of the month in Dallas.  We are in our 23rd year of monthly gatherings, with two book synopses presented at each gathering.

(We have always met at the Park City Club, with their great breakfast and beautiful surroundings.  But, for now, we are meeting on Zoom).

Here are the ten books on this month’s list of best-selling business books.  Click over to the New York Times site for links to reviews of some of these books.

#1 – Atomic Habits by James Clear
#2 – Hustle harder, Hustle Smarter by Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson
#3 – The Ride of a LIfetime by Robert Iger
#4 – Grit by Angela Duckworth
#5 – Dare to Lead by Brené Brown
#6 – Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
#7 — Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell
#8 — Extreme Ownership by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin
#9 – This is Not a Fashion Story by Danielle Bernstein with Emily Siegel
#10 – The Price of Peace by Zachary D. Carter


Note:  our monthly Zoom meetings are available on YouTube; posted soon after the live event.  Watch this blog for those links each month.   — And, our synopses are available to purchase.  Each synopsis comes with the pdf of the comprehensive, multi-page handout, along with the audio recording of my presentation.  Click on the buy synopses tab at the top of this page.  And, click here for our newest additions.


The Broken Road by Peggy Wallace Kennedy (daughter of George Wallace) – Here are my five lessons and takeaways

Peggy Wallace Kennedy

I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of “interposition” and “nullification” — one day right there in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers. I have a dream today!
Martin Luther King, Jr., Washington D.C., August 28, 1963


We humans can be a mean-spirited, condemning, arrogant species.  And fear of “the other” has led to horrible actions by so many, in every corner of the globe, in all the decades of our existence.

I recently read, and presented my synopsis of, The Broken Road: George Wallace and a Daughter’s Journey to Reconciliation by Peggy Wallace Kennedy. (I presented toy synopsis of this book at the February Urban Engagement Book Club, sponsored by CitySquare)..  She saw such mean-spirited actions up close.  Her father was George Wallace.  Yes, that George Wallace.  The one that Martin Luther King, Jr. was referring to in his speech, in the quote above.  The “vicious racist, with his lips dripping” with his ugly racism – that was her father.

The Broken RoadI have stood on the portico of the Alabama State Capitol, in Montgomery, where Jefferson Davis was sworn in as President of the Confederate States of America, and where  George Wallace, at his inauguration as Governor, delivered his infamous line, on January 14, 1963 (just months before Dr. King’s famous speech).  George Wallace said:

In the name of the greatest people that have ever trod this earth, I draw the line in the dust and toss the gauntlet before the feet of tyranny, and I say segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever.

In the book, there is one particularly jarring and offensive paragraph. I hesitate to put it in this post because of the words used.  But, it is important to the story.  In 1958, George Wallace lost the Democratic primary race for Governor to John Patterson, a man who was – yes, this is possible – even more racist than George Wallace. So, after losing to Mr. Patterson, well…read this, from the book:

Daddy had yet to come to terms with the notion that Patterson’s real appeal was his blatant racism. Daddy scoffed at the notion and shrugged off suggestions that he needed to solidify his support with the Klan— Patterson campaigned fiercely throughout the southern part of the state and continued to rely on racial rhetoric and his promises to keep Alabama white. He “was honored,” he said, to be running with KKK support. He did everything he could to remind the KKK and white voters that he was on their side. …His hard-line racism had given him the edge. My father had lost. …Although there is disagreement about the events that immediately followed, depending on who tells the story, and overlooking Daddy’s vague memory on the subject, it is generally agreed that Daddy said at some point that night, “I was out-niggered. I’ll never be out-niggered again.”

Later in his life, George Wallace apologized to, and reconciled with some of those he had wronged so grievously. And Peggy, his daughter, embraced, and was embraced by, John Lewis and the daughter of Martin Luther King, Jr. So, yes, reconciliation is possible.

In my synopses, I always include a number of elements.  Here are some for this book: 

What is the point: Even when raised at the very center of racism, reconciliation is possible, and redemption can be very real.

• Why is this book worth our time?
#1 – This book provides an inside view into the life and thinking of George Wallace, the racist Governor of Alabama.
#2 – This book is a superb memoir, proving slice of life insights into poverty, racism, and power politics.
#3 – This book shows that, even when raised at the very center of racism, one can grow, and grow up into a champion of equality and justice.

Here are some of the “best of” my highlighted Passages:

• Eric Holder’s wife, Sharon, was the sister of Vivian Malone, who had met my father for the first time during another key event in the struggle for civil rights. Daddy had made his “stand in the schoolhouse door,” as it came to be known, in June 1963, blocking Vivian’s admission to the University of Alabama, which he had refused to desegregate.
• We must live our lives with inspiration, always aspiring to make the choices that lead us to higher ground, that guide us to understanding, of not just who we are but who we can become.
• Daddy could justify anything. He was always blameless should things go wrong. He led a don’t-blame-me kind of life.
• For Daddy was willing to bend his moral universe toward power. As I would learn again and again in sometimes painful ways, he was ready to compromise not only himself but his family for the dream he had since he was a child—to be the governor of Alabama.
• Make America Great Again is not a plan. It is an insinuation that America is not good enough to be proud of. It is a pledge of allegiance to discrimination. It makes people feel that their way of life is under assault, and their deepest values are being trampled, no matter how misguided, hurtful, or destructive those notions are. It makes hating right.
• If I had asked Daddy in the summer of 1958 if he was a racist, I’m not sure what he would have said. For many years, I felt obligated to defend Daddy’s character and actions. I took the official Wallace line: Daddy was a segregationist but not a racist.
• Now I see that Daddy represented the reflexive racism of Southern men and women of his generation.
• He would have done whatever it took to be elected.
• I wore cardboard inside my shoes to cover the holes in the worn-out soles that winter.
• During the first six months of 1962, we barely had enough to eat.
• “I will continue to fight for segregation in Alabama because it is based on our firm conviction of right, and because it serves the best interests of all our people … We shall fight the federals in the arena of an increasingly sympathetic national public opinion … I pledge to stand between you and those who would impose on you doctrines foreign to our way of life and disruptive of the peace and tranquility of our citizens. I will face our enemies face to face, hip to hip and toe to toe and never surrender the governor’s office to these modern-day carpetbaggers, scalawags, and polliwogs. Right will prevail if we fight.”
• Having a father who is adulated by boisterous crowds and lusted after by women sitting beneath oversized hair dryers in small-town beauty parlors because he stomped on the inherent rights of people he was supposed to be serving makes for a rather clouded conscience for a questioning daughter who sees the truth going a-kilter.
• Seymore Trammell had said to others that he was going to make sure that Daddy was not out-niggered again. Toward that end, he convinced Daddy that Asa Carter, from the northwest Alabama city of Oxford, was the perfect person to help him with his inaugural speech. Carter was involved with the KKK.
• “In the name of the greatest people that have ever trod this earth, I draw the line in the dust and toss the gauntlet before the feet of tyranny and I say segregation now, segregation tomorrow, and segregation forever.”
• Wallace loyalists noted that Daddy’s speeches during his 1962 campaign had taken on a malevolent tone, more about segregation and less about progress. Only a few were aware that the new and revised language of George Wallace was from the pen of Asa Carter, one of the most virulent racists in Alabama, a thug and a criminal with a reputation for murderous violence.
• Daddy never trusted more than a handful of people, and at times he was willing to look the other way when close friends or allies did mischief in his name.
• The mere thought of the progeny of the slaves they once owned wanting to go to white schools and to sit down to eat with white people and, most appallingly, to vote was just more than most white folks could stand.
• Southern pride dictated that even though he lost the battle, it didn’t matter: it was the fact that he was willing to fight.
• Although by this point I knew that his politics would never be my politics and that they ran counter to what I knew in every fiber of my being was just and kind.  I know that I was only fourteen, but now, looking back, I sometimes wonder if I should have stood against my father.
• Daddy understood the power of hate and fear and exploited these feelings to gather support.
• And I wanted to be remembered for who I was rather than who I belonged to.

Here are a few of my lessons and points I highlighted from the book:

  • George Wallace; a quick history:
  • twice, Governor of Alabama
  • his first wife also served as Governor (died in office)
  • three marriages…
  • ran for President
  • paralyzed in an assassination attempt
  • racist; then, penitent, apologetic ex-racist
  • It was during this period that Daddy repented for his past actions with both words and deeds. He made outspoken declarations of his changed heart. His own suffering had contributed to the evolution of his thinking. — In 1979, at the Dexter Avenue Church where Dr. Martin Luther King had been the pastor and led the Montgomery bus boycott, Daddy made an unannounced Sunday visit. — “I have learned what suffering means. I think I can understand something of the pain black people have come to endure. I know I contributed to that pain and I can only ask for forgiveness.” And by and large, the African Americans in that church believed that he was sincere. They deeply believed in the power of forgiveness. It was one of the prime tenets of their faith.
  • Was George Wallace a racist?
  • of course
  • it’s complicated…
  • He often invited them to eat with him in his office rather than suffer the indignity of eating in the segregated restaurant on the courthouse square.
  • He never missed a Board of Trustees meeting during his term. His dedication to Tuskegee belied his coming to the politics of segregation in the decade to follow.
  • Class warfare and, years later, race warfare were Daddy’s aces in the hole—the source of his power.
  • George Wallace knew how to put on a show…
  • He was cocky, snapping and strutting, a small, slight man with dynamic energy and tremendous charisma, the Confederacy’s very own Napoleon.
  • bands; singers – Wallace rallies were boisterous: gales of laughter from the antics of Minnie Pearl,
  • Daddy knew how to roust people up, make them shout and raise fists. 
  • George Wallace, precursor to Donald Trump?
  • Take him out of those Alabama backwoods and he’ll be finished. That was a mistake. And forty-eight years later, disaffected voters responded similarly to Trump. They rebelled against the same intellectualism and paternalism, He understood that when middle-class whites perceived that the American Dream was no longer within reach, they would become blindly loyal to the person they believed could reclaim it for them. – In 1972 and again in 2016, white working-class Americans needed to feel vindicated. No more handouts or political favors to the elites, no illegal immigrants stealing our jobs, stand up when the flag goes by, anger and fear are justified—get real! Stand Up for America. Make America Great Again. — While powerless people may sometimes be skeptical of those who have the power, powerful people are the ones they most often worship, accepting their authority without question and teaching their children that respect for authority is a moral absolute. And that is at the heart of the appeal of both “Stand Up for America” and “Make America Great Again.” — Daddy’s strategy of articulating and mobilizing the grievances of the dispossessed would become one of the core strategies of the Trump campaign forty-four years later. It was the politics of rage and fear. It was resentment for no particular reason. 
  • And…
  • Dr. King’s daughter Bernice and I held hands as we stood on the steps of the Alabama capitol as the marchers approached. …I could not help but wonder how the course of history might have been changed if Martin Luther King and Daddy had known that one day, right down here in Alabama, that little black girl and that little white girl holding hands would be their own daughters.
  • Some lessons and takeaways:

#1 – First, this memoir is so revealing about life in general – poverty; racism; insecurity; depression…
#2 – The quest for power can lead to ghastly behaviors.
#3 – The south really was deeply racist. (Maybe still is deeply racist).
#4 – George Wallace learned how to use fear to get the votes.  This may have lessons beyond his own use of fear.
#5 – Forgiveness is possible. But, a sincere apology, and actions demonstrating remorse, are essential elements in bringing about, and receiving, such forgiveness.

This book is about more than just the racism of George Wallace.  There is a moving chapter on depression.  There is great insight about poverty.  It is a well-written memoir!

But, most of all, it is a look at American racism at ground zero – Alabama, 1950s and 1960s.  I have presented a number of books on American racism.  This one was an especially emotional one to read.

But, the very good news is…If the daughter of George Wallace can become inclusive  and welcoming to all people, then maybe the rest of us can.

I recommend that you move this book up on your reading list.  You will be glad that you did.  Or, if not glad, at least enlightened.