March 21, 2008

Breaking the Silence: Obama's Speech

ObamaIn this season of growth, renewal, & reflection, it's hard for me to understand how people have missed this important part of American life….

For even if Rev. Wright was Obama's "father," look how much Obama has grown to the point where he can offer a disinterested analysis of race relations in America which calls for us to be honest, while others still prefer to posture. Isn't the point of growth to be able to say, "Whenever I gain power, I will never do that!" How many of us have done this with our teachers and mentors?

We look at the person and we say (and especially when it's a role model), and say, "He may have his faults, but that's what I want to be. But this is how I'm going to do it."

And I am sure Obama will never admit this, but what other pathway is open to a Black politician other than the church? How was he going to build his power base?

And I won't even get into "father"-"son" relationships (e.g. Richard Wright/ James Baldwin, Malcolm X/ Elijah Muhammad, Muhammad Ali/ Elijah Muhammad, Jesse Jackson/ Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.) in the Black community and in America. Has everyone forgotten All the King's Men?

And finally on the issue of anger? Why do you think these young men have been wearing dreadlocks and their pants down to their knees? Why have they raided their "fathers" old vinyl records as the basis of rap/ hip-hop? Isn't that indicative of a rejection of the entire structure-- a passive aggressive reaction to their society? The less talented remain passive aggressive. Their fathers are either dead or in jail--"victims" of the system.

The more talented, (e.g. Ice-T, Chuck D/Public Enemy) built careers on anger and rejection of "the system."--"Fight the Power!"

But again we choose to be innocent (our government tortures people?) or pretend as if the systemic practice of institutional racism does not have consequences. Or better yet, choose to remain ignorant of the things our government has done abroad in the name of "American interests."

I do not believe Obama to be a hater and a careful analysis of his speech that is founded in the Constitution and in which he uses quotes from the Founding Fathers, James Baldwin, and Malcolm X, to name a few, shows that he has a deep understanding of America and that he offers a transcendent vision of America that we haven't had in a long time.



Stephen A. Bess said...

This dialogue on race needs to continue. Most of America wishes that the issue of race would just disappear. They wish that we could all just miracously wake up one day, and join together as one to sing Bobby McFerrin's 80s hit song, Don't Worry, Be Happy.

Good post, Geoffrey.

Rethabile said...

I'm actually scared for America on this one. And by extension, scared for the world, too.

I mean, how can people make a deal this size about the fact that the guy's middle name is Hussein, that he's a smoker (if he is), and that he went to a mahdrasa? It's Fox, I know, but still...

Glad to have you back, Geoffrey.

Jdid said...

well you my friend are black and you're also a thinker. Unfortunately most of america is neither. This Wright issue has derailed Obama completely.

I was always suspicious something would happen to bring him down now it looks like they found a way. It sucks.

Oh and I watched part of one of Wright's sermons that they are complaining about in the context of his sermon and its not really as bad as they are trying to make it seem.

Geoffrey Philp said...

Dear Stephen, Rethabile and JDID,

Thank for the comments. It is frightening how in the most powerful country in the world that fears are whipped up so easily and the electorate plays to the low expectations that their leaders have of them.

JDID, I don't think he has been derailed, but they do have serious ammunition.

It's good to be back...

credo said...

Thanks to Stephen Bess, I was able to read your excellent piece on Obama, Wright, Race and words.

Thank you for the link!

Geoffrey Philp said...

Thanks, credo.

I was on vacation when the story broke and hadn't planned to post until the following Monday, but when I saw/heard what was happening , I had to say something. So the breaking of the silence not only refers to Obama's speech, but my own breaking of the self-imposed silence on things political.