Dear friends and family,
Trigger warning: I will be talking about the 2020 presidential election in this post.
I have a confession to make. Something really, really bizarre started happening in my life around May. At first I chalked it up to the pandemic -- everything was chaotic, and nonsensical those days! But it was more complex than that. You see, as Joe Biden narrowed in as the front runner for the democratic presidential nominee and 97% of my friends were concerned, I experienced something… odd. As I spoke to many people, sharing their disappointment that “Okay Boomer, Joe” was somehow our only chance at defeating Trump, a strange sensation began creeping within me. I tried to ignore this feeling. It’ll pass, I told myself. You’re just stressed, I believed. But like any feelings we try to deny, the more I ignored it, the bigger it grew. And then, one day, something remarkable happened.
It was during a group therapy session, when a member brought up her anger towards Joe as yet another perfect example of how the white patriarchy strikes again, that I found myself muttering under my breath: Stop talking about my Dad that way.
I should’ve brought up these feelings in therapy -- an opportune place to explore their roots, but the feeling was too raw. I zoned out the rest of the session, quickly grabbing my journal as soon as the zoom call ended. I frantically scribbled the following words:
Joe Biden is my Dad? My Dad is Joe Biden? Joe, Jon…. Jesse. What.the.fuck.
pictured above: Joe & My Dad. My Dad & Joe. Joe, my dad….
Let me back up. Joe Biden, is not, in fact, my father. However, the parallels he shares with my Dad are uncanny to say the least. Let me walk you through some of my investigative findings:
Finding #1: Both Joe Biden and my Dad, Jon Greenblatt, are both white men associated with powerful Black people. For Joe, most obviously the Obamas and now Democractic VP candidate, Kamala Harris. For my Dad, there’s my Mom, myself and my two younger sisters. Stay with me… the plot only gets thiccc-er.
Finding #2: Both Joe Biden and my Dad have experienced immense hardships. Joe lost his first wife, young daughter and later his eldest son. My Dad lost his father when my Dad was only 12 years old. His mother, whom he was extremely close with, died when I was two.
Finding #3: Both Joe Biden and my Dad have made it their #1 priority to not let their tragedies define them. For Joe, this meant plowing through the acid trip that is politics, as a senator, then later Vice President, and now, the democratic presidential nominee. My Dad, on the other hand, poured himself into his law practice, spending over 30 years as an international litigator. I still don’t really know what an international litigator does. But that is besides the point.
Finding #4: This photo:
Finding #5: Both Joe Biden, and my Dad, have, at times, given a pseudo-European cheek kiss to a young woman who certainly did not ask for a pseudo European cheek kiss. If you are a woman who has ever been on the receiving end of one of these cheek kisses by either Joe, or my father, I am so very sorry. I can assure you that as uncomfortable as it might have been for you, it was 10x more uncomfortable for the daughter of said cheek-kisser.
Finding #6: They are both profoundly decent men. I know this description might come across as a subpar compliment, but like my role model, Michelle Obama, I mean it in the sense of being a truly honorable human. While I do not know Joe Biden personally, I know my father. My Dad was the first person who held me when I was born. While they stitched my mom back up after her emergency C-section, it was just me and him for a few minutes. And while I don’t remember that day, per se, I can imagine it perfectly. I imagine my Dad smiling, mouth as wide as can be, saying something corny-yet-endearing like, “I’ve got you, kid. You’re safe with me.” I imagine him placing a calloused thumb into my palm, allowing my little baby fingers to curl around it. I imagine him singing a lullaby to me in a sort of good baritone, likely the song “Indian Sunset” by Elton John, an extremely uncanny song choice for more reasons than one. I imagine him making a joke to break the silence, about me looking identical to his Uncle Harold, not out of malice, but because he has always been taught to use humor as an expression of love. I imagine him caressing my mom’s sweaty forehead, praising her for all of the ways she continues to amaze him with her strength and ability to make beautiful things happen. I imagine him, in hospital scrubs, judiciously watching the nurses roll me out of the delivery room, his fatherly instincts surprising him with their force. I imagine him, taking a moment to himself, to exhale. To recognize that, as my Dad, he will make mistakes; he will fall behind; he will make me angry, sad, and resentful. But most of all, he will always work to make me proud.
This is not a Joe Biden sympathy post. I do not for one second want to suppose that I know Joe at all. Or to dismiss the very real criticism that many have of him. But if he’s anything like my Dad, which I believe him to be, I think he, too, will work tirelessly to be better. To listen. To try. To make mistakes, and to learn from them. To take his role as president seriously, as he would as a father, a partner, and a friend. I believe that Joe Biden, like my Dad, can make us proud, if we give him the chance.
Please give them a chance.