quinta-feira, 13 de novembro de 2008
quarta-feira, 12 de novembro de 2008
Donna Marsh O'Connor, Truthout: "This is a memoir of sorts, the kind that many of us in America are telling days after the election of Barack Obama, who is soon, we all hope soon enough, to be the 44th president of the United States of America. We're not used to this of late, this being the emergence of our stories, our narratives, each one jubilant, provoked to the page and the airwaves by our tears, for many of us our tears of joy and relief, tears of disbelief. We, many of us, have awakened from a nightmare. And that nightmare, for each of us, is different."
BARACK OBAMA: The chicken crossed the road because it was time for a change!
The chicken wanted change!
JOHN MC CAIN: My friends,that chicken crossed the road because he recognized the need to engage in cooperation and dialogue with all the chickens on the other side of the road...
SARAH PALIN: BECAUSE, PRAISE JESUS, I WAS GONNA SHOOT HIS SORRY LIBERAL ASS OFF FOR BLOCKING MY VIEW OF RUSSIA!
HILLARY CLINTON: When I was First Lady, I personally helped that little
chicken to cross the road. This experience makes me uniquely qualified to
ensure right from Day One that every chicken in this country gets the chance
it deserves to cross the road. But then, this really isn't about me.
GEORGE W. BUSH: We don't really care why the chicken crossed the road. We
just want to know if the chicken is on our side of the road, or not. The
chicken is either against us, or for us. There is no middle ground here.
DICK CHENEY: Where's my gun?
COLIN POWELL: Now to the left of the screen, you can clearly see the satellite image of the chicken crossing the road.
BILL CLINTON: I did not cross the road with that chicken. What is your definition of crossing?
AL GORE: I invented the chicken.
JOHN KERRY: Although I voted to let the chicken cross the road, I am now against it! It was the wrong road to cross, and I was misled about the chicken's intentions. I am not for it now, and will remain against it.
AL SHARPTON: Why are all the chickens white? We need some black chickens.
DR. PHIL: The problem we have here is that this chicken won't realize that he must first deal with the problem on this side of the road before it goes after the problem on the other side of the road. What we need to do is help him realize how stupid he's acting by not taking on his current problems before adding new problems.
OPRAH: Well, I understand that the chicken is having problems, which is why he wants to cross this road so bad. So instead of having the chicken learn from his mistakes and take falls, which is a part of life, I'm going to give this chicken a car so that he can just drive across the road and not live his life like the rest of the chickens.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN: We have reason to believe there is a chicken, but we have not yet been allowed to have access to the other side of the road.
NANCY GRACE: That chicken crossed the road because he's guilty! You can see it in his eyes and the way he walks.
PAT BUCHANAN: To steal the job of a decent, hardworking American.
MARTHA STEWART: No one called me to warn me which way that chicken was going. I had a standing order at the Farmers Market to sell my eggs when the price dropped to a certain level. No little bird gave me any insider information.
DR SEUSS: Did the chicken cross the road? Did he cross it with a toad? Yes, the chicken crossed the road, but why it crossed I've not been told.
ERNEST HEMINGWAY: To die in the rain, alone.
JERRY FALWELL: Because the chicken was gay! Can't you people see the plain truth? That's why they call it the other side. Yes, my friends, that chicken is gay. And if you eat that chicken, you will become gay, too. I say we boycott all chickens until we sort out this abomination that the liberal media whitewashes with seemingly harmless phrases like the other side. That chicken should not be crossing the road. It's as plain and as simple as that.
GRANDPA: In my day we didn't ask why the chicken crossed the road. Somebody told us the chicken crossed the road, and that was good enough.
BARBARA WALTERS: Isn't that interesting? In a few moments, we will be listening to the chicken tell, for the first time, the heart-warming story of how it experienced a serious case of molting, and went on to accomplish its lifelong dream of crossing the road.
ARISTOTLE: It is the nature of chickens to cross the road.
JOHN LENNON: Imagine all the chickens in the world crossing roads together, in peace.
BILL GATES: I have just released eChicken2008, which will not only cross roads, but will also lay eggs, file your important documents, and balance your checkbook. Internet Explorer is an integral part of eChicken2008. This new platform is much more stable and will never crash.
ALBERT EINSTEIN: Did the chicken really cross the road, or did the road move beneath the chicken?
COLONEL SANDERS: Did I miss one?
One sunny day in 2009 an old man approached the White House.
He walked up to the Marine standing guard and said, 'I'd like to go in and meet with President Bush.'
The Marine looked at the man and said, 'Sir, Mr. Bush is no longer resident and no longer resides here.'
The old man said 'Okay' and walked away.
The following day the same man approached the White House and said to the same Marine 'I'd like to go in and meet with President Bush.'
The Marine told the man, 'Sir, as I said yesterday, Mr. Bush is no longer president and no longer resides here.'
The man thanked him and walked away.
The third day, the old man approached the same Marine and said 'I'd like to go in and meet with President Bush.'
The Marine looked at the man and said, 'Sir, this is the third day in a row that you've been here asking to speak to Mr. Bush. I've told you every time that Mr. Bush is no longer the president and that he no longer resides here. Don't you understand?'
The old man looked at the Marine and said, 'Oh, I understand. I just love hearing it.'
The Marine snapped to attention, saluted the old man, and said, 'See you tomorrow, sir.'
terça-feira, 11 de novembro de 2008
For years, Kamal Ahmed, the son of a black African father and a white English mother, described himself as black. Now after Obama - and Lewis Hamilton - he says he can finally feel proud to be mixed-race
Sunday November 9 2008
In the good old days, otherwise known as the 70s, I used to wear rainbow-coloured jumpers, cords with a wide leg that flapped over my Adidas Gazelle trainers (brown suede, three beige stripes - absolute classics) and rode a Raleigh Arena racing bike made in Nottingham with drop-handlebars and five whole gears. It was a happy life. The only black people you saw on television were playing for the West Indies cricket team or were being made fun of in Mind Your Language on ITV. "Mixed-race" hadn't really been invented. Not yet.
Sometimes in the playground I was called jungle-bunny by children who could already see that picking on difference was a useful way of defining themselves. And getting into fights. Sometimes I was called half-caste. It bothered me, sometimes it made the tears prickle behind my eyes. Sometimes. Down the road in Southall, west London, home to a large population of Asian first- and second-generation immigrants, the National Front marched with Union Flags and swastikas painted on their Doc Martens.
Last week, 30 years later, a man in his forties from Chicago, Illinois, with a black father and a white mother became the most famous man in the world. Two days earlier, a man from Stevenage, Hertfordshire, with a black father and a white mother, became the youngest person to win the Formula One world championship.
Last week, a week full to bursting with such astonishing possibilities, I sat and read and watched a world slightly shift, one of those moments when the day before suddenly seems a whole different history. And for me - a man in his forties with a black father and white mother - it wasn't so much that Barack Obama was black, it wasn't so much that Lewis Hamilton was black, it was that Obama and Hamilton were both black and white. Just like me.
In Britain, with our long history of mixed-race partnerships, the idea that Obama "scrambles categories" - as the Spectator said - is the important bit. This is not a victory of a black man. It is a victory of a man who has a heritage both black and white. That is the unique nature of his narrative and will be the spark that, if we're smart enough, changes the debate about identity, race and colour.
Writer and civil rights activist James Baldwin talked about a "web of ambiguity" where identities swoop from tree to tree as circumstances, situations, backgrounds, change - like so many starlings finding a roost on a summer's evening.
It's very British of course, mixed-race. In America the segregation between races is still deep and largely unyielding. Here, we prefer integration over separate lives. The Policy Studies Institute pinpointed it first in a report 10 years ago and revealed that Britain's black and Asian populations were marrying across ethnic lines at a "staggering rate". Half of British-born Caribbean men, a third of Caribbean women and a fifth of Indian and African Asian men had a white partner. Not so much black Briton as brown Britain.
Language doesn't know how to define this new category and probably nor does politics. "Biracial" must be one of worst bureaucratic calumnies against the English language ever invented by people trying to define and not insult. The debate that romped and sometimes raged across the letters pages and expressed itself in the words of white and black commentators last week is aiming at the wrong end of the stick. It doesn't matter if Obama is black enough. Or Hamilton. What matters is that these two men force us to change the way we define ourselves.
Our constant, uncomfortable effort at pigeon-holing people's race reveals that we haven't really understood that the world has moved on. We needed the jolt - Obama and Yes We Can; Hamilton and racing cars - to remind us that living with a "web of ambiguity" is what the 21st century will push upon us. For the first time, if I'm really honest, I feel that I have permission, a bit black and a bit white, to just be.
This change, this new possibility, is inextricably linked to a fundamental generational change. The sophisticated, young, urban class, those who voted in their millions for Obama, see colour not as an issue but as an opportunity. They will be the next powerbrokers as the baby boomers move to the edge of the stage.
On Thursday I was filling in a survey that asked me my racial origin. There was black Afro-Caribbean and black British and mixed white and black. A decade ago I would have put black British - it was political, it defined me. But two days ago my hand hovered over my mouse as I thought about Obama and Yes We Can. Actually I am mixed, I thought, a bit black and a bit white. And here's this new hero in America who's given me permission to be that. So I clicked on mixed white and black, a small and rare nod to my mother who is from Rotherham, South Yorkshire.
My father, who died earlier this year in a nursing home in Wiltshire, cared for by a big, loud, funny and recently arrived immigrant from Nigeria, was from Sudan. He was black, he was African and he was proud.
He left the NHS in the Eighties after a career as a research scientist in ophthalmology to start his own business. I remember once asking him why. "Kamal, the people at the top are never going to let people like me get their hands on real power,' he said. "I've gone as far as I can go, I need to do something for myself." On his face was a look of resignation, common to many millions of first-generation immigrants who knew the very heights of power were not for them. Not here, anyway.
The world has shifted. Too late for my father and perhaps for many millions of others. But it has shifted. It has shifted for that little boy with the Raleigh bike. It has shifted for the first-generation immigrant who wants to join that sophisticated class where the colour of your skin is not more important than the content of your character. Politics here, too, must now shift.
Last Wednesday I listened to a recording of Obama's acceptance speech. He spoke "of the brief union between a young man from Kenya and a young woman from Kansas who weren't well off or well known, but shared a belief that, in America, their son could achieve whatever he put his mind to". I had to concentrate so that tears did not flow.
* Kamal Ahmed is director of communications for the Equality and Human Rights Commission
segunda-feira, 10 de novembro de 2008
"Certainly the age, the youth of the first family ... they have young children. ... I think that spirit, hope and optimism is very Kennedy-esque." - Sally Quinn
Like most, I can't help noticing the parallels between Barack and Michelle and Jack and Jackie. Perhaps, like many members of my generation, I've been dreaming of another Camelot (but without the bimbos in the pool this time).
I was just telling my younger daughter, Isis, how President Kennedy's assassination on the eve of my 8th birthday has marked my life (I remember it vividly - my family lived in Puerto Rico at the time). I just hope and pray this Camelot will have a happy ending.
BBC: 'Irish Obama' song is web hit
US President-elect Barack Obama's roots have possibly been traced to 18th-century Ireland and a village called Moneygall in County Offaly.
Irish band, Hardy Drew and the Nancy Boys have highlighted Obama's Irish heritage with the song, 'There's no one as Irish as Barack Obama'
Footage courtesy Youtube/Hardy Drew and the Nancy Boys.
BBC: Obama family dog 'a major issue'
domingo, 9 de novembro de 2008
ON the morning after a black man won the White House, America’s tears of catharsis gave way to unadulterated joy.
Our nation was still in the same ditch it had been the day before, but the atmosphere was giddy. We felt good not only because we had breached a racial barrier as old as the Republic. Dawn also brought the realization that we were at last emerging from an abusive relationship with our country’s 21st-century leaders. The festive scenes of liberation that Dick Cheney had once imagined for Iraq were finally taking place — in cities all over America.
For eight years, we’ve been told by those in power that we are small, bigoted and stupid — easily divided and easily frightened. This was the toxic catechism of Bush-Rove politics. It was the soiled banner picked up by the sad McCain campaign, and it was often abetted by an amen corner in the dominant news media. We heard this slander of America so often that we all started to believe it, liberals most certainly included. If I had a dollar for every Democrat who told me there was no way that Americans would ever turn against the war in Iraq or definitively reject Bush governance or elect a black man named Barack Hussein Obama president, I could almost start to recoup my 401(k). Few wanted to take yes for an answer.
So let’s be blunt. Almost every assumption about America that was taken as a given by our political culture on Tuesday morning was proved wrong by Tuesday night.
The most conspicuous clichés to fall, of course, were the twin suppositions that a decisive number of white Americans wouldn’t vote for a black presidential candidate — and that they were lying to pollsters about their rampant racism. But the polls were accurate. There was no “Bradley effect.” A higher percentage of white men voted for Obama than any Democrat since Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton included.
Obama also won all four of those hunting-and-Hillary-loving Rust Belt states that became 2008’s obsession among slumming upper-middle-class white journalists: Pennsylvania and Michigan by double digits, as well as Ohio and even Indiana, which has gone Democratic only once (1964) since 1936. The solid Republican South, led by Virginia and North Carolina, started to turn blue as well. While there are still bigots in America, they are in unambiguous retreat.
And what about all those terrified Jews who reportedly abandoned their progressive heritage to buy into the smears libeling Obama as an Israel-hating terrorist? Obama drew a larger percentage of Jews nationally (78) than Kerry had (74) and — mazel tov, Sarah Silverman! — won Florida.
Let’s defend Hispanic-Americans, too, while we’re at it. In one of the more notorious observations of the campaign year, a Clinton pollster, Sergio Bendixen, told The New Yorker in January that “the Hispanic voter — and I want to say this very carefully — has not shown a lot of willingness or affinity to support black candidates.” Let us say very carefully that a black presidential candidate won Latinos — the fastest-growing demographic in the electorate — 67 percent to 31 (up from Kerry’s 53-to-44 edge and Gore’s 62-to-35).
Young voters also triumphed over the condescension of the experts. “Are they going to show up?” Cokie Roberts of ABC News asked in February. “Probably not. They never have before. By the time November comes, they’ll be tired.” In fact they turned up in larger numbers than in 2004, and their disproportionate Democratic margin made a serious difference, as did their hard work on the ground. They’re not the ones who need Geritol.
The same commentators who dismissed every conceivable American demographic as racist, lazy or both got Sarah Palin wrong too. When she made her debut in St. Paul, the punditocracy was nearly uniform in declaring her selection a brilliant coup. There hadn’t been so much instant over-the-top praise by the press for a cynical political stunt since President Bush “landed” a jet on the U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln in that short-lived triumph “Mission Accomplished.”
The rave reviews for Palin were completely disingenuous. Anyone paying attention (with the possible exception of John McCain) could see she was woefully ill-equipped to serve half-a-heartbeat away from the presidency. The conservatives Peggy Noonan and Mike Murphy said so on MSNBC when they didn’t know their mikes were on. But, hey, she was a dazzling TV presence, the thinking went, so surely doltish Americans would rally around her anyway. “She killed!” cheered Noonan about the vice-presidential debate, revising her opinion upward and marveling at Palin’s gift for talking “over the heads of the media straight to the people.” Many talking heads thought she tied or beat Joe Biden.
The people, however, were reaching a less charitable conclusion and were well ahead of the Beltway curve in fleeing Palin. Only after polls confirmed that she was costing McCain votes did conventional wisdom in Washington finally change, demoting her from Republican savior to scapegoat overnight.
But Palin’s appeal wasn’t overestimated only because of her kitschy “American Idol” star quality. Her fierce embrace of the old Karl Rove wedge politics, the divisive pitting of the “real America” against the secular “other” America, was also regarded as a sure-fire winner. The second most persistent assumption by both pundits and the McCain campaign this year — after the likely triumph of racism — was that the culture war battlegrounds from 2000 and 2004 would remain intact.
This is true in exactly one instance: gay civil rights. Though Rove’s promised “permanent Republican majority” lies in humiliating ruins, his and Bush’s one secure legacy will be their demagogic exploitation of homophobia. The success of the four state initiatives banning either same-sex marriage or same-sex adoptions was the sole retro trend on Tuesday. And Obama, who largely soft-pedaled the issue this year, was little help. In California, where other races split more or less evenly on a same-sex marriage ban, some 70 percent of black voters contributed to its narrow victory.
That lagging indicator aside, nearly every other result on Tuesday suggests that while the right wants to keep fighting the old boomer culture wars, no one else does. Three state initiatives restricting abortion failed. Bill Ayers proved a lame villain, scaring no one. Americans do not want to revisit Vietnam (including in Iraq). For all the attention paid by the news media and McCain-Palin to rancorous remembrances of things past, I sometimes wondered whether most Americans thought the Weather Underground was a reunion band and the Hanoi Hilton a chain hotel. Socialism, the evil empire and even Ronald Reagan may be half-forgotten blurs too.
If there were any doubts the 1960s are over, they were put to rest Tuesday night when our new first family won the hearts of the world as it emerged on that vast blue stage to join the celebration in Chicago’s Grant Park. The bloody skirmishes that took place on that same spot during the Democratic convention 40 years ago — young vs. old, students vs. cops, white vs. black — seemed as remote as the moon. This is another America — hardly a perfect or prejudice-free America, but a union that can change and does, aspiring to perfection even if it can never achieve it.
Still, change may come slowly to the undying myths bequeathed to us by the Bush decade. “Don’t think for a minute that power concedes,” Obama is fond of saying. Neither does groupthink. We now keep hearing, for instance, that America is “a center-right nation” — apparently because the percentages of Americans who call themselves conservative (34), moderate (44) and liberal (22) remain virtually unchanged from four years ago. But if we’ve learned anything this year, surely it’s that labels are overrated. Those same polls find that more and more self-described conservatives no longer consider themselves Republicans. Americans now say they favor government doing more (51 percent), not less (43) — an 11-point swing since 2004 — and they still overwhelmingly reject the Iraq war. That’s a centrist country tilting center-left, and that’s the majority who voted for Obama.
The post-Bush-Rove Republican Party is in the minority because it has driven away women, the young, suburbanites, black Americans, Latino-Americans, Asian-Americans, educated Americans, gay Americans and, increasingly, working-class Americans. Who’s left? The only states where the G.O.P. increased its percentage of the presidential vote relative to the Democrats were West Virginia, Tennessee, Louisiana and Arkansas. Even the North Carolina county where Palin expressed her delight at being in the “real America” went for Obama by more than 18 percentage points.
The actual real America is everywhere. It is the America that has been in shell shock since the aftermath of 9/11, when our government wielded a brutal attack by terrorists as a club to ratchet up our fears, betray our deepest constitutional values and turn Americans against one another in the name of “patriotism.” What we started to remember the morning after Election Day was what we had forgotten over the past eight years, as our abusive relationship with the Bush administration and its press enablers dragged on: That’s not who we are.
So even as we celebrated our first black president, we looked around and rediscovered the nation that had elected him. “We are the ones we’ve been waiting for,” Obama said in February, and indeed millions of such Americans were here all along, waiting for a leader. This was the week that they reclaimed their country.
sexta-feira, 7 de novembro de 2008
You have no idea, really, of how profound this moment is for us. Us being the black people of the Southern United States. You think you know, because you are thoughtful, and you have studied our history. But seeing you deliver the torch so many others before you carried, year after year, decade after decade, century after century, only to be struck down before igniting the flame of justice and of law, is almost more than the heart can bear. And yet, this observation is not intended to burden you, for you are of a different time, and, indeed, because of all the relay runners before you, North America is a different place. It is really only to say: Well done. We knew, through all the generations, that you were with us, in us, the best of the spirit of Africa and of the Americas.
Knowing this, that you would actually appear, someday, was part of our strength. Seeing you take your rightful place, based solely on your wisdom, stamina and character, is a balm for the weary warriors of hope, previously only sung about.
I would advise you to remember that you did not create the disaster that the world is experiencing, and you alone are not responsible for bringing the world back to balance. A primary responsibility that you do have, however, is to cultivate happiness in your own life. To make a schedule that permits sufficient time of rest and play with your gorgeous wife and lovely daughters. And so on.
One gathers that your family is large. We are used to seeing men in the White House soon become juiceless and as white-haired as the building; we notice their wives and children looking strained and stressed. They soon have smiles so lacking in joy that they remind us of scissors. This is no way to lead. Nor does your family deserve this fate. One way of thinking about all this is: It is so bad now that there is no excuse not to relax. From your happy, relaxed state, you can model real success, which is all that so many people in the world really want. They may buy endless cars and houses and furs and gobble up all the attention and space they can manage, or barely manage, but this is because it is not yet clear to them that success is truly an inside job. That it is within the reach of almost everyone.
I would further advise you not to take on other people's enemies. Most damage that others do to us is out of fear, humiliation and pain. Those feelings occur in all of us, not just in those of us who profess a certain religious or racial devotion. We must learn actually not to have enemies, but only confused adversaries who are ourselves in disguise. It is understood by all that you are commander in chief of the United States and are sworn to protect our beloved country; this we understand, completely. However, as my mother used to say, quoting a Bible with which I often fought, "hate the sin, but love the sinner." There must be no more crushing of whole communities, no more torture, no more dehumanizing as a means of ruling a people's spirit.
This has already happened to people of color, poor people, women, children. We see where this leads, where it has led. A good model of how to "work with the enemy" internally is presented by the Dalai Lama, in his endless caretaking of his soul as he confronts the Chinese government that invaded Tibet. Because, finally, it is the soul that must be preserved, if one is to remain a credible leader. All else might be lost; but when the soul dies, the connection to earth, to peoples, to animals, to rivers, to mountain ranges, purple and majestic, also dies. And your smile, with which we watch you do gracious battle with unjust characterizations, distortions and lies, is that expression of healthy self-worth, spirit and soul, that, kept happy and free and relaxed, can find an answering smile in all of us, lighting our way, and brightening the world.
We are the ones we have been waiting for.
In Peace and Joy,
quinta-feira, 6 de novembro de 2008
quarta-feira, 5 de novembro de 2008
Me and my daughter Isis in 1991
Congratulations to everyone who has fought the good fight, and now let's hope that Obama can bear the tremendous burden of responsibility and expectation we have placed on his shoulders. In my humble opinion (to paraphrase a certain slogan), YES HE CAN!
We've just elected the first Black president, Barack Obama--a leader who will serve all of us. It's a profound moment many of us thought we'd never see. What makes it even more special is that it couldn't have happened without all of us.
ColorofChange.org is putting together a story about how we feel at this moment and in what ways we helped achieve this victory. Our stories are an important part of this historic moment. I've shared my story with ColorOfChange, will you share your story too? It takes just a moment:
Ordinary people won this campaign for Obama, and we should be proud. Black people and our allies stepped up as never before: some of us talked to friends and neighbors, some of us voted for the first time, some volunteered, some gave money, and more.
And we feel great--we were personally inspired by Obama and witnessed history we never thought we'd see, while moving our friends and family to get involved in the political process and making new friends along the way that will last far beyond November.
As the dust settles, the whole media will be talking about how this victory came to be, and how everyday people feel about it. Your story should be a part of that conversation.
ColorofChange.org will gather the stories, and push to showcase them in the media, and also make them available to us. We'll be able to see what our neighbors had to say--as well as someone half-way across the country. They'll highlight the most interesting stories, and make sure the world knows how we helped make this happen.
A piece of this victory belongs to you. Make sure your story is a part of history:
We just made history.
And I don't want you to forget how we did it.
You made history every single day during this campaign -- every day you knocked on doors, made a donation, or talked to your family, friends, and neighbors about why you believe it's time for change.
I want to thank all of you who gave your time, talent, and passion to this campaign.
We have a lot of work to do to get our country back on track, and I'll be in touch soon about what comes next.
But I want to be very clear about one thing...
All of this happened because of you.
By Charles M. Blow
History will record this as the night the souls of black folk, living and dead, wept – and laughed, screamed and danced – releasing 400 years of pent up emotion.
They were the souls of those whose bodies littered the bottom of the Atlantic, whose families were torn asunder, whose names were erased.
They were those who knew the terror of being set upon by men with clubs, of being trapped in a torched house, of dangling at the end of a rough rope.
They were the souls of those who knew the humiliation of another person’s spit trailing down their faces, of being treated like children well into their twilight years, of being derided and despised for the beauty God gave them.
They were also the tears of those for whom “Yes We Can, ” Obama’s campaign slogan, took on a broader, more profound meaning.
“Yes We Can” escape the prison of lowered expectations and the cycles of poor choices. “Yes We Can” rise above history and beyond hatred. “Yes We Can” ascend to Martin Luther King’s mountain top and see the promised land where dreams are fulfilled, where the best man wins and where justice prevails.
During this election African-Americans, their hearts weary from disappointment, dared to hope and dream again. Tonight their dream has been realized.
Whether or not you agree with Barack Obama’s politics, there is no denying that his election represents a seminal moment in the African-American narrative and a giant leap forward on the road to America’s racial reconciliation.
In fact everyone, regardless of race, should feel free to shed a tear and be proud of how far our country has come.
terça-feira, 4 de novembro de 2008
Adam Nagourney, The New York Times: "The 2008 race for the White House that comes to an end on Tuesday fundamentally upended the way presidential campaigns are fought in this country, a legacy that has almost been lost with all the attention being paid to the battle between Senators John McCain and Barack Obama. It has rewritten the rules on how to reach voters, raise money, organize supporters, manage the news media, track and mold public opinion, and wage - and withstand - political attacks, including many carried by blogs that did not exist four years ago."
segunda-feira, 3 de novembro de 2008
Obama's Grandmother Dies After Battle with Cancer
CNN: "Sen. Barack Obama's grandmother, Madelyn Dunham, has died following a bout with cancer, Obama and his sister, Maya Soetoro-Ng, said Monday. She was 86. 'She was the cornerstone of our family, and a woman of extraordinary accomplishment, strength, and humility,' their statement said."
domingo, 2 de novembro de 2008
Hat-tip: Anani Dzidzienyo
What a year....I don't know about you but I am exhausted with all that is going on.
Please help me to share this vision .....click on my original song below (or cut and paste the link if no sound). If we are in agreement in this message.... please forward to all on your mailing list and beyond....LET'S SHARE THIS.... DREAM FOR ONE BRIGHT WORLD. This is just one of the unfinished songs on my upcoming CD of all original tunes called Just A Singer. I just thought, this one might get us in the mood for Tuesday. Nov. 4.
....again PLEASE. FORWARD THIS SONG TO EVERYONE ON YOUR EMAIL LIST...IT WOULD SPREAD THE WORD.
PS Would love to get this song to the OBAMA campaign...anyone out there with connections...Holler back
If it sounds like I am pleading here...I guess I am
Jazz singer Cynthia Scott was a Raelette with Rae Charles and the first person to sing at the Rose Room at Lincoln Center at Wynton Marsalis's request
Forty-one years after Sidney Poitier’s “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner,” racial politics in America have changed, but not completely.
AND so: just how far have we come?
As a rough gauge last week, I watched a movie I hadn’t seen since it came out when I was a teenager in 1967. Back then “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner” was Hollywood’s idea of a stirring call for racial justice. The premise: A young white woman falls madly in love with a black man while visiting the University of Hawaii and brings him home to San Francisco to get her parents’ blessing. Dad, a crusading newspaper publisher, and Mom, a modern art dealer, are wealthy white liberals — Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy, no less — so surely there can be no problem. Complications ensue before everyone does the right thing.
Though the film was a box-office smash and received 10 Oscar nominations, even four decades ago it was widely ridiculed as dated by liberal critics. The hero, played by the first black Hollywood superstar, Sidney Poitier, was seen as too perfect and too “white” — an impossibly handsome doctor with Johns Hopkins and Yale on his résumé and a Nobel-worthy career fighting tropical diseases in Africa for the World Health Organization. What couple would not want him as a son-in-law? “He’s so calm and sure of everything,” says his fiancée. “He doesn’t have any tensions in him.” She is confident that every single one of their biracial children will grow up to “be president of the United States and they’ll all have colorful administrations.”
What a strange movie to confront in 2008. As the world knows, Barack Obama’s own white mother and African father met at the University of Hawaii. In “Dreams From My Father,” he even imagines the awkward dinner where his mother introduced her liberal-ish parents to her intended in 1959. But what’s most startling about this archaic film is the sole element in it that proves inadvertently contemporary. Faced with a black man in the mold of the Poitier character — one who appears “so calm” and without “tensions” — white liberals can make utter fools of themselves. When Joe Biden spoke of Obama being “clean” and “articulate,” he might have been recycling Spencer Tracy’s lines of 41 years ago.
Biden’s gaffe, though particularly naked, prefigured a larger pattern in the extraordinary election campaign that has brought an African-American to the brink of the presidency. Our political and news media establishments — fixated for months on tracking down every unreconstructed bigot in blue-collar America — have their own conspicuous racial myopia, with its own set of stereotypes and clichés. They consistently underestimated Obama’s candidacy because they often saw him as a stand-in for the two-dimensional character Poitier had to shoulder in “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner.” It’s why so many got this election wrong so often.
There were countless ruminations, in print and on television, asking the same two rhetorical questions: “Is He Black Enough?” and “Is He Tough Enough?” The implied answer to both was usually, “No.” The brown-skinned child of biracial parents wasn’t really “black” and wouldn’t appeal to black voters who were overwhelmingly loyal to the wife of America’s first “black” president. And as a former constitutional law professor, Obama was undoubtedly too lofty an intellectual to be a political street fighter, too much of a wuss to land a punch in a debate, too ethereal to connect to “real” Americans. He was Adlai Stevenson, Michael Dukakis or Bill Bradley in dark face — no populist pugilist like John Edwards.
The list of mistaken prognostications that grew from these flawed premises is long. As primary season began, we were repeatedly told that Hillary Clinton’s campaign was the most battle-tested and disciplined, with an invincible organization and an unbeatable donors’ network. Poor Obama had to settle for the ineffectual passion of the starry-eyed, Internet-fixated college kids who failed to elect Howard Dean in 2004. When Clinton lost in Iowa, no matter; Obama could never breach the “firewalls” that would wrap up her nomination by Super Tuesday. Neither the Clinton campaign nor the many who bought its spin noticed the take-no-prisoners political insurgency that Obama had built throughout the caucus states and that serves him to this day.
Once Obama wrested the nomination from Clinton by surpassing her in organization, cash and black votes, he was still often seen as too wimpy to take on the Republicans. This prognosis was codified by Karl Rove, whose punditry for The Wall Street Journal and Newsweek has been second only to Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert as a reliable source of laughs this year. Rove called Obama “lazy,” and over the summer he predicted that his fund-raising had peaked in February and that he’d have a “serious problem” winning over Hispanics. Well, Obama was lazy like a fox, and is leading John McCain among Hispanics by 2 to 1. Obama has also pulled ahead among white women despite the widespread predictions that he’d never bring furious Hillary supporters into the fold.
But certainly the single most revelatory moment of the campaign — about the political establishment, not Obama — arrived in June when he reversed his position on taking public financing. This was a huge flip-flop (if no bigger than McCain’s on the Bush tax cuts). But the reaction was priceless. Suddenly the political world discovered that far from being some exotic hothouse flower, Obama was a pol from Chicago. Up until then it rarely occurred to anyone that he had to be a ruthless competitor, not merely a sweet-talking orator, to reach the top of a political machine even rougher than the Clinton machine he had brought down. Whether that makes him more black or more white remains unresolved.
Early in the campaign, the black commentator Tavis Smiley took a lot of heat when he questioned all the rhetoric, much of it from white liberals, about Obama being “post-racial.” Smiley pointed out that there is “no such thing in America as race transcendence.” He is right of course. America can no sooner disown its racial legacy, starting with the original sin of slavery, than it can disown its flag; it’s built into our DNA. Obama acknowledged as much in his landmark speech on race in Philadelphia in March.
Yet much has changed for the better since the era of “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner,” thanks to the epic battles of the civil-rights movement that have made the Obama phenomenon possible. As Mark Harris reminds us in his recent book about late 1960s Hollywood, “Pictures at a Revolution,” it was not until the year of the movie’s release that the Warren Court handed down the Loving decision overturning laws that forbade interracial marriage in 16 states; in the film’s final cut there’s still an outdated line referring to the possibility that the young couple’s nuptials could be illegal (as Obama’s parents’ marriage would have been in, say, Virginia). In that same year of 1967, L.B.J.’s secretary of state, Dean Rusk, offered his resignation when his daughter, a Stanford student, announced her engagement to a black Georgetown grad working at NASA. (Johnson didn’t accept it.)
Obama’s message and genealogy alike embody what has changed in the decades since. When he speaks of red and blue America being seamlessly woven into the United States of America, it is always shorthand for the reconciliation of black and white and brown and yellow America as well. Demographically, that’s where America is heading in the new century, and that will be its destiny no matter who wins the election this year.
Still, the country isn’t there yet, and should Obama be elected, America will not be cleansed of its racial history or conflicts. It will still have a virtually all-white party as one of its two most powerful political organizations. There will still be white liberals who look at Obama and can’t quite figure out what to make of his complex mixture of idealism and hard-knuckled political cunning, of his twin identities of international sojourner and conventional middle-class overachiever.
After some 20 months, we’re all still getting used to Obama and still, for that matter, trying to read his sometimes ambiguous takes on both economic and foreign affairs. What we have learned definitively about him so far — and what may most account for his victory, should he achieve it — is that he had both the brains and the muscle to outsmart, outmaneuver and outlast some of the smartest people in the country, starting with the Clintons. We know that he ran a brilliant campaign that remained sane and kept to its initial plan even when his Republican opponent and his own allies were panicking all around him. We know that that plan was based on the premise that Americans actually are sick of the divisive wedge issues that have defined the past couple of decades, of which race is the most divisive of all.
Obama doesn’t transcend race. He isn’t post-race. He is the latest chapter in the ever-unfurling American racial saga. It is an astonishing chapter. For most Americans, it seems as if Obama first came to dinner only yesterday. Should he win the White House on Tuesday, many will cheer and more than a few will cry as history moves inexorably forward.
But we are a people as practical as we are dreamy. We’ll soon remember that the country is in a deep ditch, and that we turned to the black guy not only because we hoped he would lift us up but because he looked like the strongest leader to dig us out.
sábado, 1 de novembro de 2008
Growing up in St. Louis in the 1950s and ’60s, Deddrick Battle came to believe that the political process was not for people like him — a struggling black man whose vote, he was convinced, surely would not count for much of anything. The thought became ingrained as an adult, almost like common sense. And that partly explains why, at age 55, he just registered to vote for the first time a month ago.
The other part of the reason is Senator Barack Obama.
“This is huge,” Mr. Battle, a janitor, said after his overnight shift cleaning a movie theater. “This is bigger than life itself. When I was coming up, I always thought they put in who they wanted to put in. I didn’t think my vote mattered. But I don’t think that anymore.”
Across the country, black men and women who have long been disaffected, apolitical, discouraged or just plain bored with politics say they have snapped to attention this year, according to dozens of interviews conducted in the last several days in six states. They are people like Percy Matthews of the South Side of Chicago, a 25-year-old who did vote once but whose experience was so forgettable that he cannot recall with certainty whom he cast a ballot for or even what year it was. Now an enthusiastic Democrat, he says the old days are gone.
And Shandell Wilcox, 29, who registered to vote in Jacksonville, Fla., when she was 18, then proceeded to ignore every election other than the current one. She voted for the first time on Wednesday.
Over and again, first-time and relatively new voters like Mr. Matthews and Ms. Wilcox, far past the legal voting age, said they were inspired by the singularity of the 2008 election and the power of Mr. Obama’s magnetism. Many also said they were loath to miss out on their part in writing what could be a new chapter of American history — the chance to vote for a black president.
Mr. Battle, for one, remembers growing up in the Pruitt-Igoe housing project in St. Louis and how intimidated the adults were about voting, and that left an impression on him. The older women he knew were afraid to walk to the polls, he said, for fear of being attacked.
“I didn’t think it was for black people, period,” he said of politics before the Civil Rights era. “We didn’t have any rights, really. We were just coming into voting and everything.”
Fast-forwarding to the present, he continued: “I never thought that I’d see this day. I never thought I’d see the day where an African-American was standing at the podium getting ready to be president.”
The swelling ranks of the newly enthusiastic are also the result of extensive nationwide voter registration drives and new early voting procedures in many states that have made the process easier and more accessible.
David Bositis, senior political analyst at the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies in Washington, said the states with the largest increases in early voting have been those where the black population is proportionally the highest. In Georgia, for instance, blacks represented a quarter of all voters in the 2004 presidential election. So far this year in early voting alone, they make up 35 percent of all voters.
“I am fully expecting record black turnout,” Mr. Bositis said. “It’s not just a question of Obama as the first black nominee; it’s also that African-Americans have suffered substantially under the Bush years and African-Americans have been the single most anti-Iraq-war group in the population.”
He added, “Obama is like the icing on the cake, but it’s not just a question of Obama.”
One early voter in Georgia was Armento Meredith, 43, who waited in line for two hours at the Fulton County Government Building in downtown Atlanta to vote for the first time on Thursday. “It’s time for a change,” said Mr. Meredith, a telephone operator. “I want to see something different.”
The result is likely to be a level of black participation in the electoral process that is higher than ever before. If sustained, some of those interviewed said, it might also translate into a reinvigorated sprit of democracy in some communities where it has been long dormant.
“In the black community, I see a great many people coming out who were apathetic since ’84,” said Bob Law, 63, an activist in New York City and former radio host who worked on the Rev. Jesse Jackson’s campaign for the presidency in 1984, the first time a black candidate was a serious national contender. But in the years since, he said, blacks’ enthusiasm had waned.
“People didn’t vote before because they really didn’t think their vote was going to make a difference,” Mr. Law said. “Whenever black voters felt like there was a reason to vote, like it might mean something, they’ve turned out.”
That is exactly how Mr. Battle, the janitor in St. Louis, feels. In the past, “I felt like Democrat or Republican, it didn’t matter who won,” he said. “But my guy Obama? I think it’s going to be a change if he wins. He’s speaking my language.”
For some black men and women, the sense of pride is overwhelming, as is the feeling that they are participating in what could become a touchstone moment, something that children and grandchildren will want to hear about.
“I’d feel bad forever if I didn’t get out this time,” said Ms. Wilcox of Jacksonville, a cafeteria worker. “I’d feel like I didn’t do my part to put him in the office. How would I explain that to my little girl? ‘Oh, I had something better to do?’ And sure, it’s partially because he’s African-American. But he also says there will be change, and I believe him.”
Timothy Hairston, 47, a bartender in Brooklyn who has never voted before, shared that point of view. “I wanted to be a part of a historical moment, to say that I was involved in history in the making, that I was an active participant as opposed to someone on the sidelines rooting for change but not involved in the process of making change.”
He added of Mr. Obama: “I think it’s a testament to his campaign that he can inspire. At the end of the day, no matter what party you vote for, I think every once in a while there are inspirational moments that call for people to wake up from their deep sleep and become alive and get involved. And I think Barack at the very least is an inspirational figure.”
For some, coming back to political life was a slow process that unfolded over months. Others said that they were struck by something in Mr. Obama’s life or what he stands for and that conversion was immediate.
Ms. Wilcox saw some of her own biography reflected in Mr. Obama’s. They were both born to single mothers and raised mostly by their grandparents in modest settings. Ms. Wilcox said she felt validated, motivated and inspired all at once when she first heard Mr. Obama’s life story during the primary season. “I began to think that we had a lot of life features in common,” she said. “It gave me hope.”
Bianca Williams, 20, a hair stylist in Brooklyn, said the campaign had changed her life. After seeing Mr. Obama in the first debate, she decided to go back to community college part-time. “After seeing his success, I started thinking maybe I could help my community like he did,” she said. “If he could do it then I could do it. It woke me up, career-wise. It just gave me the willpower to go on.”
That is also true for Mr. Matthews, who works in a Chicago coffee shop. Not too long ago, he said, he lied to his mother about having voted in an election just so that she would stop nagging him to get out and vote. What a difference this year has made: he said he watched the party conventions and three of the four presidential and vice-presidential debates. He has followed coverage of the candidates in the local papers. He voted in the primary, and he cannot wait to vote on Tuesday.
“As I’m talking now, I’m getting goose bumps,” he said.
For Darnell Harris of Cleveland, an 18-year-old private in the Marines, the legal voting age could not come fast enough. “I’m excited that the first time I get to vote, it’s for Barack,” he said. And echoing many others, he said that race is only part of the reason. “Obama cares about everybody, whether they’re white, black, Chinese, whatever. He’s not just for one little group.”
For some new voters, family and peer pressure certainly played a role.
“Most of my life I didn’t want to get involved with anything political,” said Damien Henderson, a 26-year-old merchant seaman. “But everywhere I go lately, people are talking about Barack Obama. I could be standing in line at a grocery, and somebody’s going to ask me what I think about Barack Obama.”
Mr. Henderson said he started paying attention and fell for Mr. Obama’s charisma. He voted for the first time on Monday, for Mr. Obama.
How did it feel to cast that first vote?
“It actually felt really good,” he said.
Reporting was contributed by Robbie Brown, Catrin Einhorn, Malcolm Gay, Christopher Maag and Karin Zraick.