I was told the substance in the glass casserole dish in front of me was potato salad – but I wasn’t buying it.
Why was it white?
Why was it smooth?
And where was the red stuff that goes on top?
It was 1998, and I was having my first Thanksgiving dinner with white people.
Now on the one hand going to his parents house for the holiday was a very good thing. I was in an interracial relationship and we had progressed to the point in which he felt comfortable doing so. But on other hand, I was a bit troubled when I walked through the door and didn’t smell greens cooking. Were we too early? Were they in the fridge?
As I was being introduced, I took a nice deep breath and...nope. Not a whiff of collards, or turnips or even the Tito Jackson of greens—mustard. For a moment I thought I had wandered into an episode of the Twilight Zone or maybe my mother had hired a witch doctor to put a hex on me because she was mad I wasn’t coming home.
I mean, it was Thanksgiving.
Editor’s note: Yul Kwon is the host of the PBS series "America Revealed" and winner of the reality TV show “Survivor: Cook Islands.” He has worked in law, government, business and technology, is the vice chair of the Council of Korean American Leaders and sits on the advisory boards of the Asian American Justice Center, the Asian Pacific American Legal Center and NetKAL.
By Yul Kwon, Special to CNN
People often ask me why I decided to leave a safe, respectable career as a lawyer to go on television. (If you’re my parents, this is something you wonder on a daily basis.) I sometimes joke that I stopped being a lawyer because I wanted more friends.
The real story is more complex.
As a child, I grew up deeply introverted. I was so shy and timid that if you had told me then that I would one day win a reality show and host a television series, I would have thought you were nuts. However improbable it might be that I would end up in front of a camera, the underlying roots of my insecurities help to explain how I got here.
Engage with news and opinions from around the web about under-reported, untold stories from undercovered communities.
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Editor's note: James C. Hormel served as U.S. ambassador to Luxembourg from 1999 to 2000. He recently wrote a memoir entitled "Fit to Serve: Reflections on a Secret Life, Private Struggle and Public Battle to Become the First Openly Gay U.S. Ambassador." He is chairman of the family-run investment firm Equidex.
By James Hormel, Special to CNN
When Shorter University in northwest Georgia recently informed its 200 employees that they had to sign a "personal lifestyle pledge" requiring them to reject homosexuality or lose their jobs, school administrators underscored a staggering injustice: In 29 U.S. states, people can still be fired for being gay.
While same-sex marriage and other equality debates soak up political and media attention, the Employment Non-discrimination Act, a 37-year-old bill, languishes in the U.S. Congress.
Without that federal law, a majority of our states condone job, housing and other discrimination based on sexual orientation. An even larger number - 35 - have no protections for transgender people.
By Aman Ali, Special to CNN
Anytime I hear about a TV show coming out that features Muslims, my initial reaction is almost always “Oh man, please don’t suck. Please don’t suck.”
Unfortunately with TLC’s new reality show, it does.
“All-American Muslim” is the network’s new series about a group of Muslim families living in the Arab-rich city of Dearborn, Michigan.
Brilliant! What better way to show the mainstream public an insight into how multicultural and intellectually diverse Islam’s followers are… with a show focusing on just Arabs (20% of the world’s Muslim population) who follow the Shia sect of Islam (about 10 percent of the world’s Muslim population).
The show, which premiered over the weekend, presents itself as a glimpse into the American Muslim community but ignores an overwhelming majority of the cultures that comprise it. South Asians like my parents, who came from India, make up one of the largest group of Muslim immigrants in the United States.
That doesn’t bother me as much as the fact that the show makes no reference to African-American Muslims, another huge American Muslim group. Many of the black slaves that built the foundation of this country with blood, sweat and tears were Muslim.