From family to equality to racism, Hasan Minhaj’s comedy special on Netflix outlines his upbringing in Davis, California. He describes growing up with only his father until the age of eight, where his mother brought back his little sister, whose existence had been unknown to him until his mother’s move to the United States.
The show is centered around Minhaj’s experience with high school, or more specifically, prom. In short, he describes being turned away from going to prom with a girl because her parents didn’t want their daughter to be seen with someone of his skin color or his ethnicity. This experience is surrounded by other experiences stories that made him who he is.
He describes the prom experience as this odd micro-aggression that he never expected. These were people he had known for a while. He had had extended interactions with them, he had eaten off their plates, and he had been close with their daughter. It really shows that racism manifests itself in places that are not at all obvious. People in your safe spaces can be just as racist as the people at Neo-Nazi rallies, and it’s crazy to me that many don’t realize that.
Minhaj often references the “American Dream Tax”. This represents the idea that immigrants have to pay a tax by facing the racism in order to live in this country. After the tragedy of 9/11, Minhaj said that people would call their house and break the windows of their car, and while he wanted to fight back, his father would take the high road. He was willing to pay the “tax” and keep their heads down in order to keep living in this country. Minhaj describes his opposition to the idea, by saying that we all have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. This theme was repeated throughout the story, and I thought Minhaj used it to describe his experience in America compared to other people’s.
Homecoming King was relatable, while also being politically challenging and hilarious. Though the show does have its strong and serious political moments, it is filled with funny moments that are relatable to everybody. It’s filled with all of these emotions and feelings that I had felt as a kid and never got the chance to talk to other people about. Frankly, I wish I had heard this as a kid. The heart and the character that went into this show was outstanding, and I could not have been happier to see it.
Hasan Minhaj previously hosted the White House Correspondent’s Dinner, and has been a correspondent on the Daily Show.