Friday, November 14, 2008

count it higher!

stay tuned for a for a fairly long post that's currently in the works, but for now, one of my all-time favorites...

Friday, November 7, 2008

this somehow seems appropriate...

i was feeling low, i was kind of blue. but that's all gone because of something new!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

From the heart

I'm only 23 years old, and I realize that my short time on this Earth has shielded me from many of the injustices that my people have faced in the U.S. However, as a Black Woman I recognize the rich history that we have- my mother was among the first bused into white schools in my hometown of Columbus, Ohio, my grandmother grew up on the land our family share-cropped in Tennessee and my great great great grandfather fought in the Civil War and, with his brother, used their compensation to buy the land for what became one of the first freed-slave communities in Dickson County, TN.
Even with a past filled with progress and achievement, my family, like many others, deals with many of the issues that plague Black Americans: poverty, drug use, crime, broken homes, etc. I grew up plainly working class with my mother and my sister, and while she did everything she could to give me all that I needed and always let me know that I could do anything if I set my mind to it, I always had a small bit of doubt that I could really make it.
I've had the good fortune, upbringing and support to have achieved some of my own dreams already in life (graduating from college and moving to the city to try to start my career)- but never really knew just how bogged down by doubt and lack of confidence that I was. I never knew how deeply ingrained those feelings of low self-worth and helplessness were in my psyche- until I felt a great deal of them lifted when it was announced that Senator Obama would soon be President Obama.

Four years ago in Cambridge, on Harvard's campus, I sat with my close friends as we waited for the results of the Kerry-Bush election. When all was said and done the room was silent all but for quiet curses and weeping.
Two days ago I cried again, harder and stronger than I did before- but this time they were tears of joy. I was happy that change would come, excited for a leader that could inspire such unity in people all over the world, and most of all HOPEFUL for the future that my little sister, my cousins and my future children will have. They will grow up in a world where anything is possible, they won't have to say "I want to be the first Black President," they can just follow their dreams and a path that has already been set.
Some of my friends and I were talking (i.e. what Kaya mentions below)- and we realize and accept that we have been a pretty cynical generation. We haven't experienced much monumental change for the better in our lifetimes- 9/11, Katrina, the War.. time and time again things have gotten worse and worse. But this is the first time for us that something major has happened. Something amazing has occurred.

This is the first time that we not only have hope- but can believe in it.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Our Defining Moment

Yesterday afternoon I walked to Whole Foods to pick up a cake, and as I walked through the Financial District in New York everything around me seemed heavy and still, as though the world was on the verge of cracking wide open. Every minute of the day felt somehow momentous, because every minute brought us closer to the moment when everything might change. It sounds so dramatic, and as I was walking to Whole Foods I remember thinking to myself that I needed to calm down, but even as I was talking myself down, I came to a realization: its true that it still remains to be seen how this election will impact the world and our futures, but regardless, this election was, for people my age, the first truly momentous occasion we have ever experienced. Eight years ago, when Bush first came into office, I was in high school. When Bill Clinton was first elected, I was seven. For people around my age, the current dark ages are really all we can remember, and as such my view of the world has largely been shaped by a sense that participation in the political process is meaningless and an ever-diminishing tolerance for patriotism in the face of the United States’ growing list of atrocities and aggressions. The mere thought that a black man could be president, that an intelligent and articulate man could be president, that someone I actually admire could be president, is a new concept to me. The thought that other countries might be inspired by anything America does is something I didn’t expect to see, and the images of people around the world rejoicing in Obama's success have made me feel, to quote Michelle Obama, proud of my country for the first time. The fact is that with the election of Barack Obama as president of the United States, we might not know what’s to come, but suddenly I find myself asked to open my mind to the possibility that it could be something GOOD. The fact that Obama could not only get elected, but could win in Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Florida, and VIRGINIA means that fundamentally, my cynicism when it comes to the intelligence and goodness of people in general may just be wrong. This is the first moment since I first heard a friend say “people are a constant disappointment” that I’ve felt that statement might not be true. And that’s a big fucking deal.

At the same time, I think I’m essentially still in shock. I expected to cry when I saw Barack and Michelle stride into Grant Park as the new president and first lady-elect, but the image so violently clashed with the understanding in my mind that this is not what America looks like, that I don’t think I was even able to fully process the moment. The fact that the new face of America is not white, that the family in the white house will be black, is I think symbolically even more important than we can imagine.

Hm. This is getting quite rambly, no? My final thought is just this: this is the first time in my life that I’ve ever seen so many people celebrate ANYTHING in this country. I stood in Union Square last night and watched a bunch of hipster youth attempting to spread a chant of “U.S.A! U.S.A!” through the massive crowd that had gathered to celebrate, and thought it was probably the first time many of them had ever used that chant, certainly the first time I’d ever enjoyed hearing it, and even if we were experiencing the moment in incredibly different ways and for different reasons, which I expect we were, and even if the coming years prove to be no better or no different, that moment was significant.


I am crying.  This is beautiful.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Nov 4th

ok so i have about 3.5 million things i should be doing right now other than blogging. this will be a short post. but i felt the need to say SOMETHING seeing as how tomorrow is...momentous.

i've been talking with friends, and a lot of us seem to be in the same general mental state: TOTALLY FREAKING OUT.

most of us seem too scared to even voice out loud what everyone else seems to be screaming from the rooftops - that obama is going to win tomorrow. the thought of proclaiming it, letting yourself believe it, and then having your hopes crushed is too terrifying. as many people have already said, liberals in this country have forgotten how to be happy, or even optimistic. the emotions we're generally most familiar with are terror, rage, and despair. so we're feeling all of those right now despite the fact that things are actually looking up. so in the spirit of that, i'm not going to talk about anything happy right now. although hopefully it IS something interesting...

I was reading an article today about who-can-remember-what, and it quoted a woman in North Carolina (I believe) who said she was scared of Obama, and that she worried he was planning on changing the American flag to something else. and for some reason that fairly insane fear, out of all the ones i've heard so far, suddenly made me feel this crazy empathy with this woman. Its so easy to see all those supposed masses of "real america" residents who hate and fear obama and think "man, those people suck." but as I was reading this article it dawned on me that if i were her, i'd probably be scared too. The fear is not of Obama himself, but of the symbolic power shift implied in electing a seemingly liberal black man as president - something is going to change, and a lot of people don't quite know what that something is. I don't think I can say it better than my friend Ann did earlier today, so i'll just quote her here:
"There is something to the fact that many of the people who actually are afraid of barack obama because of his race, or because of his liberalism, or because of both of them combined, are actually not the most secure people in america. Confused white people in western pennsylvania are not high rollers and their jobs aren't that secure. They might have relatives in prison, and relatives in iraq. The people who are against immigration viscerally are people who fear losing their jobs. The people who are afraid of changing sexuality, are also afraid of having their religion become obsolete and becoming culturally irrelevant. The people who are afraid of a black president probably are playing into the same fear that people have been harboring for centuries in this country, (is this really racist against white people to say) but a white sharcropper mentality. Super racist because your position isn't that secure either, because if I don't have whiteness, I have nothing."

I think that we among the 'liberal elite' spend a lot of time wondering why so many people who are relatively poor vote republican, when the republican party clearly does very little for poor people. But I think Ann's hit on something important which is that if you're a powerless minority in this country, you don't have much to lose. but if you're a powerless member of the majority, whether it be your whiteness, your male-ness, your heterosexuality that ties you to the faces of power in this country, you have a real fear that if you lose that one tie to power, you'll have nothing. For a poor white person, seeing another white person in power is as symbolically relevant as i can only hope seeing a black person in power will be for black people. and i just realized this post isn't as short as i intended it to be, so i need to get back to work.

good luck out there tomorrow.