I would need to play along like music and football are important to me too. I would need to pretend I care about the things they care about and stay quiet when ignorant or hurtful things are said about the poor about the minority or about the hurting. I would not be free to explain my heart and the things I’ve learned to love because of my beloved third-world country that raised me. The thing is, it feels to me like nobody understands or cares to know the real you when the real you isn’t the norm. They are afraid to try and don’t know how to talk about the odd life you have had so instead they choose not to talk at all.
Then, in November, Richard Cohen wrote in a Washington Post editorial: “People with conventional views must repress a gag reflex when considering the mayor-elect of New York — a white man married to a black woman and with two biracial children … This family represents the cultural changes that have enveloped parts — but not all — of America. To cultural conservatives, this doesn’t look like their country at all.” Here in Riverside, we laughed pretty hard. Mr. Cohen’s “conventional” people, whoever they are, would be straight-up choking in much of Southern California, in our classrooms, on our streets, in our restaurants, and I’m assuming they’d be close to unconscious in my house, with my children and relatives.
I think Cai’s pretty clever, but whether or not that’s true shouldn’t matter. I realized that despite knowing better, I was projecting my hopes onto him. Though I was a straight-E student, I didn’t do much with that, and on some level I want him to succeed where I failed. The report brought out the worst in me. I berated myself for not reading to him enough. I feared he was mediocre. I got caught up in comparisons, striving, hubris and resistance. All that Buddhist wisdom, like so much self-help detritus, forgotten because of all those letter M’s.
One African-American family that we became friends with when our sons were in middle school told us that they didn’t let their older son drive until they were comfortable that he knew how to be “properly deferential” if he were pulled over by the police. Until then, it had never occurred to us that we would need to add training in “how to act in the event that you’re stopped by the police” to our list of teenage driving skills. So, we had “The Talk” with both of our sons before they learned to drive. While aching inside, we rattled off the drill: Show your hands, smile, do not appear threatening and never talk back. One of our sons insisted that he would sue any police officer who stopped him without cause, but we were pretty certain that he understood and would follow our instructions. We were all shocked — especially the boys — to learn the vital nature of our advice when their DWB came true.
I would ask of his critics: where were some of these conservatives as allies against tyranny? Where were the masses of conservatives opposing Apartheid? In a desperate struggle against an overpowering government, you accept the allies you have just as Washington was grateful for a French monarchy helping him defeat the British.
Let me say up front: I am not a prude. I love sex; I am comfortable with my sexuality. Hell, I’ve even posed in my underwear. I also grew up on a healthy balance of sexuality in pop stars. Yes, we had Madonna testing the boundaries of appropriateness, but then we also had Janet Jackson, Whitney Houston, and Cyndi Lauper, women who played with sexuality but didn’t make it their calling card. And for every 2 Live Crew “Me So Horny” video girl, there was Susanna Hoffs singing tenderly about her eternal flame. Twenty years later, all the images seem homogenous. Every star interprets “sexy” the same way: lots of skin, lots of licking of teeth, lots of bending over. I find this oddly…boring. Can’t I just like a song without having to take an ultrasound tour of some pop star’s privates?
In other words, biblical Christianity may not be antithetically opposed to free market capitalism, but it’s not its biggest supporter either. Which means you can rant all you want about how these were individual mandates and not government ones, but you’re grasping at straws. When Jesus asks “I was hungry, did you feed me?” he doesn’t put conditions on it. He’s not asking about the manner in which it was accomplished as if it mattered whether the poor are fed through a private sector non-profit or a taxpayer funded program like food stamps. All Jesus cares about about is whether or not they get fed.
So if you watch Scandal with your scales of justice, they will break. You will want Huck to kill someone. You might root for Olivia and Fitz’s truly scandalous affair, and hate Mellie (the wife) for standing in the way. Sometimes, you will even wish one of the few good folks lose. Why? Because this is a show that doesn’t operate in black and whites. Everything is in shades of gray. In fact, the only thing that’s usually pure is the color of Liv’s outfits. YESSS POPE WHITE!