Jonathan W. Gray has a Ph. D. in American Literature and teaches at John Jay College. He’s an expert on American Literature and culture after WWII, African American Literature, Comic Books, and Graphic Novels. His first book, Civil Rights in the White Literary Imagination, arrives in stores early next year. (You can read an academic article he wrote on Jay-Z and Lupe Fiasco or one on Kyle Baker’s graphic novel Nat Turner.) But mostly he’s a father to three amazing children (fast forward to 3:39 for a glimpse of the kiddies) and husband to an incredibly accomplished partner. Between planning the play dates, taking the kids to doctor appointments, doing school drop offs and pick ups, chaperoning school trips, and so much more, this Brooklyn dad often feels like he’s part event planner, part parent. But truth be told, he’s having a blast being the primary caregiver, exposing his kids to the varied cultures of NYC because cultural events often provide the narratives that enable us to make meaning of our lives.
My daughter is 11 years old. This means I am experiencing many things that I find exciting (preparing for middle school!) and terrifying (training bras!). But it also means that our tastes on pop culture have begun to diverge. We used to enjoy watching Backyardigans together, and she likes Alicia Keys and Florence and the Machine because I liked them first. But now she watches A.N.T. Farm and Cake Boss, and has embraced the music of Katy Perry and Carly Rae Jepson, all of which causes me to retreat to whatever book I am currently reading. I understand why she likes these things, and am fully cognizant that she won’t necessarily enjoy these things in four years (though she might! *shudder*) but there is less and less that we can share.
Except, thankfully, for comics. READ FULL STORY