More looks from Michelle Obama:
“Black love is Black weatlh” – nikko giovanni:
ON THE ROAD AGAIN OR BEING A DEDICATED AND REGULAR BLOGGER…
Okay…here I go again, with yet another attempt at being a responsbile blogger talking about arts, culture, fashion, and books. I think part of my problem is the idea that everyone has a blog these days. What could I possibly have to say that will be different, unique – captivating even? Nothing, really. At least nothing that others outside of my mama and my friends will find amusing, charming and witty.
So, I have to relinquish any idea that this blog makes me special. It’s basically an online diary, that no one will really read. A catalogue of my thoughts about the things I like. There pressure relieved.
DID YOU SEE IT?…..
Moving right along….did you watch the speech last night? Obama’s speech, yes that very one. I love Obama just like the next EBP (Educated Black Person) however, I have to say, that this was not my favorite speech. I think he did far better when he addressed the nation after the controversey (Part I) surrounding Jeremiah Wright. That speech, beautifully written, crafted with a sense of political saavy, and clearly well thought out, I found more historic. Check it out here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YEEUkYfiYW4 The speech isn’t perfect, but I would put it, politically, on the level of John F. Kennedy addressing concerns about his Catholicism. To me, this is Obama’s most fantastic speech. When I saw it, I was spellbound.
Obama’s speech last night, I felt, failed to stand within the full power and history of the moment. I wanted to be astounded, instead I am pleased, but not fully satisfied. Here a Biracial/Black American is accepting the nomination of the Democratic Party, on the 45th Anniversary of the March on Washington, and he called out the name of not one Black American as he listed his heroes. Oh yes, he made the connection to the historic moment, but in front of all those people, he called nary a one of the names of those Black Americans who, in part, made it possible for him to stand there – John Lewis, Ella Baker, MLK, Maxine Waters, Shirley Chisholm. Speaking of John Lewis, what happened to him last night? It was my understanding that he was going to introduce Obama. Was that a rumor? It would have been more fitting, I think than Durbin.
Even Hillary Clinton, looking well-rested and radiant in an orange pantsuit, referenced Harriet Tubman. Calculated to win back the respect of Black female voters as that may have been, she still shouted out Harriet – and if I am honest, the line was well written and well delivered.
So while a a video was released connecting the MLK’s speech and the March on Washington, to Obama’s historic victory, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P94QfwKVKNA&feature=related, and there has been a great deal of talk about the historical intersection, unfortunately, it’s not enough for me. I needed the recognition of the historic moment, done in bold letters and underlined, in the speech last night, in the spotlight; front and center, articulated and alive. It was a good speech, it’s what Obama needed to get elected. The speech, however, didn’t stand in the full electric power of the moment. It did, I think, inadvertently enhance the fact that Obama, though charming and brilliant (great smile, big ears, does it every time) is not a fiery orator like King. King gave the most remembered and treasured part of his speech that day, off book – speaking from his sprit. Speaking a prophetic vision: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iEMXaTktUfA.
When you watch the clip, the camera scans the audience, catching King looking at his notes, and when next we see him, he is looking directly, fully and richly, at us. That’s the spiritually powerful place from whence he delivered his dream. What does it mean in 2008, that Obama doesn’t even speak his name on the anniversary of that speech? Can’t speak the name for fear of alienating white voters. Come on folks, anytime MLK’s “I Have a Dream” speech makes people nervous, you know that we have not gone as far forward as we should, could, or thought we had. White people may no longer be at the helm, but their fears, value-systems, superstitions, and stereotypes are still guiding the keel.
So much so, that in a moment that was uniquely tailored for Americans of color, for all Americans committed to ending injustice and white supremacy, not alienating white voters had to be front and center in crafting the moment. And that folks, still counts as racism in action: emotional racism. Because even at the moment that is supposed to be wildly triumphant, all of us, regardless of identity, are asked to check the well of emotion and feeling of victory, for the broader cause: not threatening middle-American white folks, so that they will vote for Obama. It was a moment for us all, and it still had to be subverted for votes. Let me be clear, I understand, it serves a larger purpose. But I don’t have to be happy or satiated by it.
Obama didn’t really have another option. But our option must be to choose to see that just because a person of color is the Chief, that doesn’t mean that centuries of oppressive thinking, behavior, and policies go out the door. It’s astounding progress, but I don’t hear any death throe violins humming for white supremacy yet….
I think Obama was terribly nervous. I mean, imagine carrying all that hope, the weight of all those expectations, all that history. It is a lot. And that causes me to check my expectations. Our leaders can’t be expected to be everything to us – great heroes without any fault, fiery, visionary orators and extremely detail-oriented planners with all the answers. I think we would do far better, if we allowed our leaders to be faillable, as humans are. Not that it is okay to have affairs (yes, Mr. Clinton, I am talking to you and your tucked thumb hand choereography we all know so well, I peeped that Thursday too; Edwards, toss that glossy mane and deny one more time…), not that they don’t have a responsibility to be honest, ethical, and above all equitable, but that simply, we should not worship them.
From a political speech perspective, I was also expecting more rifts on King’s speech. Obama loves hope, why not references to King’s carving of the “great stone of hope.?” I also thought the speech writers missed a fantastic opportunity to say that dreaming and hoping are action words. King had a dream. Chavez and Huerta had a dream. Chisholm and Steinem had dreams. Thurgood Marshall and Medger Evers, Fannie Lou Hamer and Septima Clark, all had dreams -visions. Because only a vision, powerful, immutable, beautific in its ability to draw out devotion from its followers, makes you give your all, right down to your very life. And through the dedicated action of the people, committed planning, and King’s gift for sharing his vision with the nation, we achieved act after act on behalf of equity in the U.S. Every inch of equity has been fought for in this country.
It is a captivating moment. All these factors coalescing, all the movement richocheting off one another. The Women’s Movement, Cesar Chavez’s Worker’s Rights and Economic Justice, the Civil Rights Movement, the Gay Rights Movement. All that work from decades past – Obama was standing in the vertex of all of that. That is what Obama is inheriting. I wanted his speech to call that all out, spin it like gossamer.
No one can ever say, that dreaming and hoping are not action words – that they don’t produce real measurable change. Maybe the only people who would say it, are those educated under Bush’s No Child Left Behind scheme, and we see how well that’s working out….I think that Obama could have also put more emphasis on “now is the time for democracy,” a line directly from the King speech – that is so very true.
And even with all this, he still did it! He still had his moment! He accepted the nomination! And I have to tell the whole truth, when he did, a smile, I could not hamper, spread across my face and stayed there. I was moved by his opening, by his declaration that we, all those who support him, have moved him to this place where he is posied to be the next President. I believe, that he believes in us. I liked that he reminded us that we would have to work to be better. He was Presidential. When he said we’d be free from our dependence on oil from the Middle-East in 10 years, I thought, “really?! We can do that? We can do that.” I looked at him, and even through disagreement, I respected him (respect him).
I think as a nation, we want desperately to recapture that moment when King stood, when someone stood, to declare their dreams. I wasn’t alive then, but I have a hunch, that in the moment, it was surreal, that we couldn’t quite place it; that we wish we could go back and relive it, so we could appreciate it as we should have, in all its heady historic glory. But perhaps asking any one leader, to relive that moment for us, on cue, while all the world is watching, maybe that’s not a reasonable expectation…
Also, I love Jesus, just like the next TLEBP (Traditionally Leaning Educated Black Person), but can we ease up on the “G*d Bless America?” I love Jesus and G*d too, but not everyone in this country is Christian, not everyone even believes in G*d. I’m going to need folks to recognize our religious and spiritual diversity just as readily as we seem now to recognize our multicultural diversity.
WELL I HAVE A BLACK FRIEND TOO…
Speaking of which, did you see all the white politicos seeming confused, saying extra foolish things, and trying to establish their multicultural street cred. Yes! They know some Black people! Yes! They have Black friends – they have “mixed” friends even. Yes! They know what Black dignity looks like – that must be why Tom Brokaw, who wins for foolish commentary last night, said Obama was like Sidney Poitier. Other Brokaw highlights include his retelling of his encounter with “a prominent African American woman,” he knows. Apparently, while they were speaking, she had a “small emotional break down,” as she explained how excited she was last night. Translation, she smiled broadly and was energetic. Brokaw went on to talk about King, referencing how he was “gunned down.” Do you have to point out that King was “gunned down.” Really Mr. Brokaw? You’re super ignorant.
2. THE QUEENDOM…
And to end on a high note, can we all be clear, that Michelle Obama is FABULOUS! Diva away, Mrs. Obama. She is the reason I went from undecided last fall, to Obama. I heard her speak, and thought, “okay. I get it.” I want to be this kind of Black womyn when I grow up. And the ensemble – is lovely.
Very updated Jackie O. And I have natural hair, which I love, it’s never been pressed; political statement and all. But that perm makes me want to go and get my hair pressed. It’s glorious. I mean that is some good looking hair doing. Maybe Michelle can tell Condi where to get her hair did. Just a little whisper in her ear, as they pass each other in the halls of power, “stop the kitchen press curl, girl. I know someone who can help…”
I think Michelle may have outdone her hubby, she contextualized the moment for us, linking Barak Obama’s story, to her own, and then back to the flowing current of the American story (always more global, working-class, and multiracial than we like to admit.).
Can we talk about how good some of the “common folk” speakers were last night. Here’s a roll call of some of my favorite moments:
1. Barney Smith who reminded us that he wanted a country that was built to support him and not Smith Barney. Barney got off to a really rough start, a start with enough rough edges, that I wondered if Dilbert was doing a live-action film: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IuAVw_v3br8 But then he loosened right on up…
Barney must be real upset to abandon the Republicans.
2. My Latina educator sister Teresa who pointed out that “strong families, make strong students!” And reminded us that, “Si su peude!”
3. The womyn who said she voted for Nixon, Reagan, and both Bushes and she “just can’t do it again.”
NOTE: Please do not use any part of this post to a.) dismiss Obama and Black leadership b.) show that yes, Hillary should have been the nominee or c.) suggest that last night wasn’t special.