2017. TV-MA. “Comic Hasan Minhaj of “The Daily Show” shares personal stories about racism, immigrant parents, prom night horrors and more in this stand-up special.”
“Your courage to do what’s right has to be greater than your fear of getting hurt.”
While ‘the Puritan’ will have difficulty wading through the profanity, the viewer looking for a good laugh steeped in raw humanity will find one of the most brilliantly crafted and presented shows in Homecoming King. Minhaj is candid, blunt, and forthcoming, all without being unnecessarily crude or contemptuous. He is vulnerable and endearing. He is astutely insightful in deconstructing and analyzing the systems and emotions of racism. And it wouldn’t be a show this good unless he was an insanely good storyteller, which he is.
Our church is currently holding “crucial conversation” meetings on the topic of race (an outgrowth of watching 13th, and reading The New Jim Crow). It is a delightful juxtaposition to watch Homecoming King in concert with these conversations. Like Homecoming King, our gatherings have moved from tears to laughter and back again, partly due to the unbelievable (and yet believable) acts of bigotry that still happen today, and partly due to the humorous coping mechanisms we all need in order to navigate those complicated realities with some semblance of sanity.
My main takeaways (as of now), from both, Homecoming King and our conversations are as follows:
- Racism will always be with us. I make this statement not to concede defeat, but to simply deal with reality.
- There is pain on “both sides.” This is not to say that there is equal “weight of responsibility.” This is to acknowledge the truth of pain, and the fact that racism is damaging to everyone.
- We must be mad, angry, sad, and hilarious, all at the same time. In an issue as complicated and visceral as racism, to only have one of those responses is to be unhealthy. We need them all.
- There is a host of contradictory wisdoms in the diverse varieties of responding to racism; we should not disdain any of them. Specifically with Homecoming King, I was struck with the way Minhaj’s father dealt with the same issues, and his deeply principled approach in moving the world forward. And, I equally appreciated Minhaj’s progressive disdain for the previous generation’s shortcomings.
- Never give up. Fight, constantly. There is hope, and there is progress. There is redemption. But they are not delivered. They are taken.