Celebrate: Plus Ones


Sunday night’s Golden Globes were charged and provocative at a time when the entertainment industry needs charge and provocation. After a year in which large-scale issues of sexual misconduct and gender inequality finally became impossible for anyone to ignore, it seemed inevitable (but no less staggering) that 2018’s first major awards ceremony would address the elephant in the room head-on. And it happened immediately: “Good evening, ladies and remaining gentlemen,” joked host Seth Meyers to open the show.


Over the course of the evening—and almost entirely thanks to the women in attendance— an acknowledgment of the crisis in Hollywood was nearly constant, from pointed asides like Natalie Portman’s stinging “Here are the all male nominees” preceding the Best Director candidates to eloquent speeches like Oprah’s. If you watched Oprah’s stirring address, you might not be surprised by how many Tweets compared it either to a sermon or a presidential campaign speech:

I want all the girls watching here, now, to know that a new day is on the horizon! And when that new day finally dawns, it will be because of a lot of magnificent women, many of whom are right here in this room tonight, and some pretty phenomenal men, fighting hard to make sure that they become the leaders who take us to the time when nobody ever has to say “Me too” again.


What was most electrifying to me was the decision many women made to invite female activists as their Plus Ones. I think it’s particularly admirable when people are creative and selfless enough to subvert their circumstances for greater purposes, whether they’re a 9-year-old giving up his expected Christmas haul to give blankets to people experiencing homelessness, or even a shrewd manager who gets creative with his boss’s estate. Prominent female celebrities like Meryl Streep, Amy Poehler, and Laura Dern recognized that they are nowhere more visible and influential than on the red carpet at a huge spectacle like the Golden Globes, and they cleverly subverted the norm of a Plus One to extend that visibility and influence to activists like Ai-jen Poo, Saru Jayaraman, and Mónica Ramírez. While they weren’t the first to do so—award shows are notorious hotbeds of various kinds of activism—their creativity stood out on a night that was already noteworthy.


The entertainment industry, of course, is not the only industry reckoning with sexual misconduct. Over the weekend, a megachurch pastor in Tennessee confessed to a “sexual incident” involving a high school student in 1998. Many have condemned the actions of the leadership at the church where he was working at the time as well as the way his current church has handled what has come to light.


Celebrating the vision of a time “when nobody ever has to say, ‘Me too’ again,” and the work of so many people to make it a reality will always be bittersweet. It’s a kind of rejoicing through tears because the reckoning taking place involves facing many ugly realities. As we lament the ugliness that has persisted and persists still, let us celebrate those who are helping things to change.


Lament Impossible Dilemmas


The New York Times reports:


Nearly 200,000 people from El Salvador who have been allowed to live in the United States for more than a decade must leave the country, government officials announced Monday. […]


Homeland security officials said that they were ending a humanitarian program, known as Temporary Protected Status, for Salvadorans who have been allowed to live and work legally in the United States since a pair of devastating earthquakes struck their country in 2001.


Those Salvadorans join the numbers of hundreds of others who face potential deportation, like Nicaraguan immigrants or Dreamers, due to the government’s hard lines on immigration. I have strong convictions about these policies that relate to my core faith convictions, as I’m sure you do. Nevertheless, while people of faith might disagree in churches and on Facebook and across the dinner table about the best legal policies for immigration, I hope we can all collectively lament the harrowing dilemmas facing so many families in which at least one member has lived in the United States without legal status for a long time:


With his protected status, Carlos Jiron, another Salvadoran, started a small contracting business and won bids for big jobs, including to paint federal buildings in the Washington area.


“We have built a life here,” said Mr. Jiron, 41, who lives with his wife and two American-born children in a four-bedroom house they bought in Springfield, Va.


He will have to decide whether to take his children to El Salvador, where he says they would not maximize their potential and would face safety threats; leave them with guardians in the United States; or remain in the country at the risk of arrest and deportation as one of the millions of undocumented immigrants.


His 14-year-old daughter, Tania, a fan of Disney movies and hip-hop music, said she could not fathom starting over in El Salvador. “This is where I was born and am supposed to be raised,” she said.


This is the kind of agony I have trouble empathizing with: not because I don’t want to empathize, or because I don’t care, but because it is so dramatically far from my own experience. How can someone who has never faced the risk of losing my family or my home empathize with someone who has faced that risk unceasingly for more than ten years? So we listen, and we lament, and we beg that God would have mercy if we have failed to see Carlos and Tania as God sees them and to treat them as God would have us treat them.