Tuesday, April 29, 2008

To the Left, To the Left...

I just want to thank Barack Obama for doing what he did today. The man offered Rev. Jeremiah Wright a path that could work to the advantage of both. Obama wanted to honor, as best he could, the person who helped him toward embracing the church. Rev. Wright chose the worn path of division, rancor, and sycophancy that so many of his peers have followed. And it doesn't come as a surprise to me; it's completely disappointing. It is as though Rev. Wright is working for the opposition in this race.

This reminds me of the post I wrote concerning Andrew Young's comments about Obama. I will say this again. Thank you Boomers for all that you did to ensure that all of us from the immediate post-boom on could live in a world that seemed so far out of reach when you were born. It is time for you to retire, and let us take over. There are some wounds that will not heal. There are some hurts that cannot be ameliorated. There are pains within the depths of your psyches that we, the younger generations, will never know. Pass the torch, and let us take on the work. Too many of you assume that we aren't capable. Too many of you have refused to serve as mentors to train us up (so we learned on our own, much to your chagrin).

We are better prepared than you know. We have our eyes on the prize, and that prize lies in our future, not our past. I am an historian. I respect the past. I have learned from the past. But I am all about the future. Barack Obama is all about the future, as well. Rev. Wright, and so many of his peers, simply won't allow themselves to see that it is about the future. And because of that, it is time for him, and his cohorts, to step aside.

The train for the future is now boarding. One is more than welcome to remain on the platform; I just won't be there with you.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Elitist Revisions

I need someone to explain to me how a person born solidly in the middle class in the post WWII era, who just recently talked about visiting the family summer cottage in Pennsylvania during her youth, who was a solid Goldwater Girl, who then attended perhaps the most elite of the women's colleges in the country, only to cap off her education at one of the most elite law schools in the country, then followed a path that led her to the inner sanctum of American government, primarily through her husband (who was actually poor), can then somehow morph herself into this hardscrabble, gun brandishing, every woman.

At least Obama had some elements of struggle in his upbringing, and like the husband of the person above, managed to gain access to the most elite institutions in the nation for his education. Moreover, this character decided to do community organizing among the working class (though because they are African American, that seems not to count in quite the same way as "working class") as his post elite education job.

What's even more offensive to me is that Obama spoke the truth. People in desparate times look to scapegoats as salve for a troubled soul. American history is riddled with examples of this. How loudly can I scream the election of 2004? Many Ohio residents, particularly black ones, used gay marriage as a proxy for voting the current POTUS one more term in office (salve for the soul, and "the family"). That HRC would exploit, and distort, the truth in Obama's comments (even when those same sentiments were espoused during the Clinton administration) just for the sake of hoping to score political points is brilliant. That working class voters would buy it hook, line and sinker is priceless.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008


As my 40th birthday approached, I was determined to consider many of the facets of my life with an examining eye (the Indigo Girls, in their song "Watershed," sang "every five years or so I look back on my life, and I have a good laugh"). I want to determine the direction I would like to follow. I have always said that history must always play a prominent role in the work that I do, and that will not change. But there are so many times when I feel like singing Erykah Badu's song "Didn't Cha Know," because I thoroughly understand where she is coming from.

I am looking for different things in my life now. I hope to find love (I feel like I could sing Erykah's song "Honey," though I would change her lyric "love" to "like," since I am not in love at this time), and I want to consider the idea of settling down, though I know it may take me a while to find the right man. I want greater meaning in my personal and work lives, and I want to unwrap the passions that exist within me. I want to engage history in more meaningful ways than I have in the recent past. I want to get in better shape. In short, I want to lead a more fulfilling life.

The difference now is that I am ready to meet those challenges. I am ready to restructure my life in fundamental ways, and I think the world will benefit from the changes. My family and friends have been on my side the entire time, and I have not done poorly for myself by any stretch of the imagination. However, there are too many things missing. There is not a sense of satisfaction in my world (with the exception of my friends and family, including one recent burgeoning friendship). And I know that when I find the sense of comfort and space that I need, then the world will have to watch out, because I will want to take as much of it as I can before I leave (and I would dedicate it to my late uncle Joe, who introduced the beauty of jazz to my world, and the passion for cultural connections with both the United States and continental Africa).

I just need to take those steps, one at a time, each time moving one step ahead.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Forty Years Later

As I became more aware of my love of American history, I grew to be very proud of the fact that I was born in 1968, perhaps the most tumultuous year in 20th century American history. I also realized that my special birthdays would always mark the anniversaries of the deaths of King and Kennedy. So many people have concluded that 1968 proved to be a watershed year when liberalism as a truly respected political philosophy died in the embers of the riots that rocked the country.

On this 40th anniversary of MLK's death, I cannot help but marvel at the fact that we are watching a black person make a serious run for POTUS. We have a black Supreme Court Justice (regardless of what one thinks of his political philosophy, he is still a black man on the SCOTUS). We have a black woman who is in charge of all of our foreign policy as Secretary of State (and she is the second black person to have held that post within one administration). So much has happened, so much has changed, in my literal lifetime. I know that my ancestors would be gobsmacked to see what has come to pass.

Yet, there are problems that have risen among black folk that defy logic in many instances. The problems are well known, and they are obvious. I've posted my thoughts on some of those issues in the past. I think that Obama, in his speech on race was right to state that there are too many within the black community who, in the midst of the aforementioned tremendous changes, continue to see more obstacles than opportunities. I am not so naive that I dismiss genuine problems based on race. Condolezza Rice correctly stated that racism was like a birth defect for our nation, and that we have been trying to accomodate that defect since 1776. But to suggest, as so many whom I know do, that racism seems to be everywhere and on the rise, I think is an exercise in hyperbole.

Conversely, I think that too many self-described conservatives dismiss the legitimate anger that many older black folk continue to harbor. Conservatives look at the issue of race, and its impact on the black community, in a purely ahistorical fashion. There has been a black presence physically in the U.S. since 1619. For 345 of the 389 years that black folks have been here, the country actively worked to hold them back. I am a part of the first generation to live in this nation when legalized segregation had been dismantled permanently. Conservatives too often pretend that those first 345 years were not really much of a cuckhold on the black community and its effort to progress. It is a testament to the black community that it was able to flourish in several areas in spite of the orchestrated effort to thwart that progression. That is never really talked about by conservatives, but perhaps they someday will gain an historical perspective.

King's assassination reminds me of the fact that we will never know the full capabilities of a man who provided a voice for the pain of a people who'd struggled, and survived for centuries. King, through his words and actions (as well as the thousands of other black folks and their supporters in individual communities around the nation) fought to remind this country of what it could become when it honored its own principles. Though King had his flaws and shortcomings, his work, like the work of so many of our most revered American leaders, supercedes those problems. Forty years later, it's clear to see that King helped to re-shape what America was, as well as how it perceived itself, and we should thank him for helping us get there.