There was a time when it would have bothered me. Not anymore. Finding myself in the winter of life, I have accepted the likelihood that I am out of touch with my colleagues.
This thought was brought to mind by the media’s treatment of New York City’s next mayor, Bill de Blasio, and his wife, son and daughter.
Silly me. Here I thought the story of the New York mayoral race was about the fall of disgraced former congressman and serial exhibitionist Anthony Weiner, Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s final curtain call and the election of de Blasio, an avowed progressive and the city’s first Democratic mayor in two decades.
Goes to show my detachment from journalism today.
Judging from a feature story and op-ed columns in The Post and the New York Times, the New York election was about hair and . . . how did they used to put it down South? Ah yes, race-mixing.
First we learned from The Post’s Style section that the signal contribution to American political life by New York’s incoming first family is the hair on their heads.
Not just hair but hair in descriptive styles: There are the “long dreadlocks . . . pulled into a smart, flowing ponytail” on de Blasio’s wife, Chirlane McCray ; son Dante’s “famously large Afro ”; and daughter Chiara’s “loose, kinky locks framed with a band of roses.”
It was not a snippy piece. The article was a paean to black self-expression, a song of praise to the hair aesthetic of African Americans in a political family — a way of using hair to, as the article said, “telegraph meaning.”
Kinda thought this theme had been celebrated many times before.
Lyrics from Sesame Street’s “I Love My Hair” come to mind:
Don’t need a trip to the beauty shop, cause I love what I got on top.
It’s curly and it’s brown and it’s right up there. . . .
Wear a clippy or in a bow. Or let it sit in an Afro. My hair looks good in a cornrow. . . .
I wear it up, I wear it down. I wear it twisted all around. I wear braids and pigtails too. I love all the things my hair can do.
Differing hair styles have been in vogue in African American culture for years. Or so I thought.
But then, I’m probably out of step with subjective journalism. That also applies to the current focus by some on interracial relationships and sexual orientation.
The blogosphere is on fire this week over these lines in a Richard Cohen op-ed column: “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. (Should I mention that Bill de Blasio’s wife, Chirlane McCray, used to be a lesbian?)”
New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd also delved into McCray’s sexual orientation, referring to McCray in an August column as “a black lesbian who fell in love with a white heterosexual, back in 1991.”
Please note, in positing that an interracial marriage with biracial children must cause “conventional” people to gag, Cohen did not include himself among those given to upchucking at the thought. He was, as the elders used to say, “just sayin.’ ”
Dowd, on the other hand, didn’t attribute her reference to McCray’s sexual orientation and the couple’s mixed race marriage to concern expressed by others. Evidently, it mattered to her.
As a journalist, I guess I’m just out of it.
I thought de Blasio’s pledge to fight income inequality, to dump the city’s controversial stop-and-frisk laws and to undo some of Bloomberg’s educational reforms were issues worth keeping an eye on. How this unabashed liberal mayor fares with Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) and the legislature in Albany also struck me as an absorbing question.
Maybe it’s because the other stuff is a yawner.
My oldest grandson, a college freshman, has an afro that would make Dante look like a skinhead. (Well, not quite.)
Two of my three adult children have been in interracial marriages for more than 20 years. Most of my seven grandchildren are biracial.
Wait, hold on.
I don’t really know the precise racial makeup of their white parents. There might be a little Asian, Hispanic or Native American blood in there somewhere.
Could some grandkids be tri-racial? Is there even such a word?
Until these de Blasio stories, it never occurred to me to ask my wife of 52 years if she’s going to keep her curly bob cut or go back to her spiky pixie haircut or if she’s also into women.
New-age journalism cares about this stuff.
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