Archives For culture

Supreme CourtOf course, there has been but one thing that we have all been talking about over the last several days.

There are the people who support the Supreme Court decision. There are people who celebrate it…

And then there are the people, apparently about 40% of us, who do not celebrate, do not support the new law of the land in regards to marriage.

Over the last couple of years, I have heard it said over and over that state and now federal government is “redefining” marriage; the premise being that marriage has some transcendent and immutable qualities that the court just overturned.

I always found this argument to be somewhat odd, and now that the inevitable has happened, I finally figured out why. If you think the Supreme Court redefined marriage last Friday, my gut instinct is that you should probably take it up with King Henry the Eighth.

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What is it about masculinity that seems so…fragile?

If this guy works to be a good enough dad, he’ll reach a level of parenting called “Mr. Mom,.” In other words, be a good enough parent, and you must not be a man anymore.

Our culture gives a lot of talk to what makes a “real man.” We produce thousands of male-centric products. We have lots of ideas about what men do and enjoy.

And yet, for all of this, we seem more confused than ever. Men seem less secure in themselves, less confident in their own masculinity. It seems harder to understand what it means to raise boys into men.

I thought about this over the weekend, as we celebrated men and masculinity. And the problem it seems, is not in spite of all the male-centric discussions and advertising.

I don’t want my son to inherit a fragile masculinity. I don’t want him to have to pursue manhood, the way our culture defines it. So I had to figure out where our confusion comes from.

It turns out that our confusion about masculinity is precisely because of our obsession with it.

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My first reaction, like many of you I am sure, was…

"You mean I'm going to stay this color???"

“You mean I’m going to stay this color???”

“What?”

A white woman has been “living as a black woman.”

My first question, in all seriousness was “What does it mean to live as a black woman?” But soon enough, things were cleared up.

Rachel Dolezal was lying about her identity.

Not that lying about your identity is what it means to “live as a black woman.” She was just trying very hard to be a black woman. She was dishonest with people. She implied that she had an African-American father. Bruce / Caitlyn Jenner didn’t have the luxury of lying about his / her gender.

Rachel Dolezal told Matt Lauer that she has been this way since she was five, drawing self-portraits with the brown crayons instead of the peach colored crayons.

On the one hand, Rachel appears to have had a challenging and unusual childhood, so maybe that’s true. On the other hand, she has been proven to be a very unreliable narrator for her own life, so who knows what we should believe.

But here’s the thing. Rachel may be unusual. She may be unreliable. She may even be unethical. She might even be crazy…

…But I’ll claim her.

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mckinney-eric-casebolt-640x420I was actually afraid I might have seen things wrong on Monday.

I don’t usually write about stories immediately as they are happening. But Monday was different. Sunday night, I saw the video of McKinney cop Eric Casebolt subduing black teenagers in swimsuits. I went to my computer and wrote my immediate reactions and hit “publish.” I didn’t even know if anyone else was paying attention to this.

Then, the next morning, I saw the story on Good Morning America, and I knew this was a real, big thing.

As my Facebook feed flared up with links and comments, I wondered if I had got things wrong. I boldly claimed that – yes, we do not know the whole story of what happened at that pool party, but – no, none of the rest of the story matters.

I wondered if some insightful person would offer a comment that would punch a hole in my theory, that the rest of the story doesn’t matter.

I looked and looked. No one was able to.

Oh sure, plenty of people offered “explanations” and “defenses” and “analysis” of the police’s actions. But none of them changed my mind. None of the extenuating circumstances made a bit of difference on what we saw on film.

I am tired of the ridiculous, indefensible excuses being made on behalf of abusive police officers. These are among the comments that may cause me to block you in my social media stream.

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Yesterday, like many of you, I saw the video of a McKinney police officer “serving and protecting” the community.

It was disturbing.

It was maddening.

Everything he did was probably illegal.

I thought I had had my dose of righteous indignation for the day. Then I read the story from The New Yorker about Kalief Browder, a teenager who was detailed for more than a thousand days without a trial, was abused, starved and beaten by guards on video, and recently committed suicide after his release.

The thing I found myself thinking about these two stories is that I don’t need to know the whole story. With stories like Michael Brown, the issues that we could have talked about were undermined by the fact that we do not know the whole story.

But in these two cases, we just don’t need all the facts. It doesn’t matter that one video doesn’t tell the whole story. An officer kneeling on a hundred-pound girl in a swimsuit is all we need to know. The same officer pulling his gun on teenagers while kneeling on the girl is all we need to know. The officer running around, cursing at teenagers is all we need to know.

We do not need to know anything about the robbery that Kalief Browder was never tried for. We do not need the details of his life.

Why do we not need any of these things?

Because they do not matter to the outrage we should feel. Not one event, not one circumstance that preceded these stories makes anything justifiable. There is just no reason for an officer to act the way this guy is acting. There is no conceivable reason why a sixteen year old should be detailed for years, waiting for a trial, and be abused while being detained.

So I ask you, parents, when are we going to start teaching our children about where they come from?

Obviously, the parents in that McKinney neighborhood are teaching their kids where they come from. They put up signs around the pool, thanking the police for keeping them safe. But that’s not what I mean.

I mean teaching our children that the world doesn’t look like our own homes.

We keep a photo of the Rwandan boy whom we sponsor on the fridge, because we want our child to see that the world is not a middle class neighborhood. Not everyone is white. Not everyone gets to go to school. Not everyone gets the (modest) luxuries that his parents can afford. If nothing changes, our child will never live in danger of poverty. And we are having serious discussions about how to help give him a sense of justice toward the children who do live in poverty.

How do we even start to teach him that not everyone is afforded the same police protection in this country? I have next to zero fear that my child will ever be assaulted by a police officer. I just don’t know.

I don’t know how we are going to teach our son about these things, but I think the point is that we are going to do it. It took me until I was an adult to really see these things in the world. I don’t want it to take so long for my son.

teach

Those parents in McKinney appear to be completely tone-deaf, or they didn’t see this officer going on a rampage.

But I’m done. I can’t teach my son to unquestioningly trust authority. I can’t teach him that police are always there to help.

We usually tell our children that life is not “fair” when they whine or complain that they don’t have what they want.

I think I’ll show my child just how unfair the world can be, just how unfair his life really is…

Love.

 

That’s the response.

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