Friday, October 24, 2008

Where Do We Go From Here: Nov. 5 and Beyond!

Nov.5, 2008

The votes have been counted and Barack Hussein Obama is the 44th president of the United States. People came to vote, old young, black, white, brown, yellow, rich, poor and in the middle. We came, some blind, cripple, maybe even a little crazy, but no less determined. We have celebrated with confetti, good music, spirits, tears and a lot of thank you Lords. What's next for America, what's next for people of color world wide. Will the Obama brand be accepted: a black face sitting on the throne of U.S. power?

How do we insure that the election has more than just a historical and symbolic significance? What can humanity do to insure that we move beyond race and class politics toward a healing of America and the world that our children can safely inherit. The new era of Obama's leadership will call for a radical shift in paradigms, worldview and praxis. We will have to be both reflexive and forward thinking in order to enjoy even a modicum of success.

Where do we start the rebuilding process? Does it start with the economy, health care, foreign policy, especially as it relates to Afghanistan and Iraq. What does it mean to European Americans to have a man of mix race, African and Caucasian calling the shots? What will it mean to people of color to have a person who at least in hue looks more like them than any other president?

Throughout the presidential campaign the media suggested that America had suddenly become color blind. I have a funny feeling that now that Obama has been elected the lens of race with take center stage. What will happen now that the celebration is over and the real work begins. Will the still white male dominated Congress be able to get behind a black man; even a Harvard educated, mixed race, raised with mid-Western European values one ?

America is at the nadir of its existence on the world stage. How do we rise out of the ashes of eight years of GW? How do we begin to heal the scars and redirect our moral, social, and economic compass toward justice for all, rather than a few. What I know for sure is that now it is our time to raise the bar on ourselves and thus make our government including president elect Obama accountable. The fight will be long and hard, so much has been lost (i.e. our civil liberties, jobs, homes and our respect around the world). The brother has truly inherited a huge pot of dung. He will need all of the moral fiber, testicular fortitude and a continued belief in the audacity of hope he can muster.

As African Americans we must not get caught up in the caught up. We must not be naive enough to believe that one black man alone can change our destiny. We must seize the moment. Get involve in your local government, get knowledgeable about who your state's U.S. senators and representatives are. Become active in writing them to let them know the national public policy agenda you would like to see. It is the responsibility of every American citizen to frame the political debate. If the Obama administration is to represent a true participatory democracy, we must speak up and out on behalf of those who are voiceless or just plain unwilling. We must speak with one voice for radical k-12 education reform, jobs and living- wages for all who desire and are able to work . We must advocate for access to affordable quality health care for every child, woman and man. More importantly, we must demand that the young men and women in our arm forces are brought home safely and timely. No longer should we sacrifice our young in the name of oil under the guise of democracy.

We have made the ancestors proud with this historic moment. Now let's put our heads and hearts together and see what world we can make that is a worthy inheritance for our young and the beautiful ones not yet born. I challenge each of you as I challenge myself to make the historic election of Barack Hussein Obama more that just a symbol, but a true reflection of what can happen when humanity comes together with a common vision of hope and possibility. I commit to do and be more to insure that my grandsons, Jaden and Jeremiah inherit a future that insures them a quality education, affordable health care, a living wage and a planet that is sustainable, greener and healthier for all.

My prayers and meditations go out to the Obama family. The love that Barack and Michelle show for each other and their children speaks to the revolutionary power of love to uplift and to heal. I pray that God will keep them strong as a unit and that the Creator's circle of protection will guide them as they attempt to carryout the duties of the Commander and Chief. To paraphrase words from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s historic speech, " Where Do We Go From Here", " the plant of freedom as grown another bud, but it still is not a flower." (16 August, 1967). There is much to do, let's get to work to insure that the bud of freedom, love and democracy is transformed into a beautiful flower of hope and prosperity for all humanity.


Monday, October 20, 2008

I'll Take a Mammy Over a Video Hoe: On the Secret Life of Bees

Recently I viewed the new movie, "The Secret Life of Bees" with a star studded cast of Queen Latifah, Alicia Keys, Dakota Fanning, Jennifer Hudson, Sophie Okonedo, Nate Parker and Tristan Wilds. The film is based on the novel by Sue Monk Kidd, which was a New York Times bestseller. Set in 1964, on the dawn of the Civil Rights Act, in the still separate and unequal South.

Visually the film is extremely appealing against the backdrop of beautiful South Carolina. What makes the film more amazing is that it was adapted for the screen and directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood and produced by Overbrook Productions (Will and Jada making that pape). African-American cast, director, producer. How often does this happen in America? No pimps, hoes, or gratuitous profanity.

Though I saw it coming, I wanted to give us the benefit of the doubt. Of course each person is allowed their perception or opinion of a movie. Many have come out to say the movie represents black women as Mammies and some saw especially Queen Latifah's character as a Mammy. What saddens me is I don't see this kind of outrage when the video hoes are paraded across the screen daily as representations of black womanhood and the outcry is a decibel above a whisper. Few seem to have a problem with black women who can barely string a sentence together and the only tools they utilize is a body that will fade far too soon.

I'll take a Mammy over a video ho any day. The women in "Secret Life" are smart, cultured, independent, entrepreneurial and have the capacity for love even in the mist of white supremacy at its worst. The women are able to transcend the boundaries of race and class, knowing that anything that's loved can be saved: even a poor little motherless white girl that's been rejected by her father and an uneducated black woman whose only crime is her desire to register to vote.

Sadly as a people we have internalized our oppression to the point we are blind to our beauty and power. We as a community and the whole of humanity could take some lessons from the Boatwright sisters. Though fictional, the characters in this movie recognize the revolutionary power of love to heal and transform lives. June's character played by Alicia Keys almost misses out on love, because she is nearly consumed by the struggle for civil rights and her need for independence. But it is the Mammy in August(Queen Latifah) that reminds her that there is always room for love and to reach out to those less fortunate.

Rather than internalizing the negatives stereotypes of black women that have haunted us throughout our journey in these dis- United Sates, I choose to see the characters in "Secret Life" as part of our historical legacy as African people. In my mind, it stands to reason that the Mitochondrial mother of all humanity would also be the nurturer and mother to the world. Those of limited vision failed to look beyond the Southern drawl and the homely clothes and see proud black women empowered because they define themselves, they own the land that they live on and their means of survival. Name me one video hoe, including Karrine Steffans who can claim the same.

The bees in "Secret Life" represent a powerful metaphor not just for black people but for the whole of humanity. We must be more like the bees and think we/us, rather than me/I if the planet is to survive. In the coming days, with our without Obama as commander and chief, we will have to find the capacity to love beyond racial, gender and class lines. Love is a revolutionary act and it is indeed the only thing that can heal our world.

To each his own, but I'll take a independent honey making Mammy over a video hoe any day.