Before I began teaching "inner city" kids, I had no idea what it meant to be poor in America. Had you asked me to describe poverty, I would have been like a blind person with a sketch pad - able to draw an image but without the experience to conceive the picture nor the ability to understand what I had projected. By meeting "my" kids , hearing their stories, visiting their homes, I was able to grasp how little I knew, how little I could understand. I found an incredible respect for those who struggle in obscurity and in the shadow of American mass culture.
I am reminded of my transformation as I listen to the Right Wing Republicans this week propose the amendment banning gay marriage. What strikes me is how little these people understand about how most people live in our country. In particular the arguement that "every child should have a mother and a father." I think it would be a tremendous gift to our children to give each one a mother and a father. However, most do not have that now. Most live in divorced households or single mother households or mixed families with one parent or another, a grandparent, siblings, etc.
But let's say we could flash a magic wand and give the people "what the people want." How does one define a "mother" and a "father"?
Is it by their gender roles? My husband is a terrific "mother" to our children. He cooks, plays, dabs booboos...I am a pretty good father, bringing home the bacon and instituting appropriate discpline.
Do we define mothers and fathers by their physical make-up? Is a trangendered mother a "mother"?
What about mother and father substitutes?
How about this: Every kids gets a mother and father and grandmother and grandfather, aunts, uncles, cousins. Let's make it a birthright, guaranteed by our Congress and Constitution. If they wind up with a couple of extra moms or dads, let's call it lagniappe.