You cited an interesting experience you had in a class that you took and you raised the question, suppose we were blind?
Well, my father had been blind for over fifteen years. He was also the pastor of our church. My father was a great man and had the personality to match. Everyone who met him, loved him.
As a kid, I was shy and didn't have the confidence to interact with strangers. The first time I had any meaningful interaction with white people was in the Marine Corps. So, as a young man, I studied how my father interacted with people, especially, complete strangers because he was a genius at that. I think as he began to lose his sight, he developed and trusted his other senses which relieved him of drawing visual conclusions.
This ability allowed him to construct an opinion about people based, primarily, on what they said and the intonation of their voices. Thereby, breaking down all the barriers that us "able" people maintain when interacting with others. Perhaps, the male humans are more guilty of judging people based on appearance than females because it has been proven that we are more visual. Think about it, how often will you see a man who is dating a woman who's, let's say, physical beauty is not her strength. On the other hand, more often, you may see an attractive woman with a man and wonder, how did he get her?
If the visual factor was taken out of the social equation, perhaps human relationships would be much more meaningful. I think scientist put their finger on it when they try a theory under a "blind test" or when a philharmonic hold trials for a cellist with the judges and cellist separated, unable to see one another....all that can be heard is the beauty of the instrument.
If we read the text of Hillary's and Barack's speeches without the knowledge of knowing who they are, I believe Democrats could go with either candidate. It's only when race and gender comes into play that we have issues. To prove my point, take this very simple questionnaire Ayana Douglas sent to me.
After espousing all of this rhetoric, it begs the question, "why am I supporting Barack Obama and not Hillary Clinton?" It's simple: he is black and is equal, if not better, to all of his competitors. It gives me great pride to see my "brother" compete on this level and to be, in the first time of this country's history, seriously considered as our next president. His candidacy has done so much for my community. When I walk down the street I see people beaming with this unspoken pride. Regardless of my personal problems, I feel revitalized. I feel hopeful because of this man's candidacy. I imagine this euphoria in the black community is similar to the euphoria felt after Joe Louis' victory over Hitler's Max Schmeling.
My other affinity for Barack is his ability to move me. My history is steeped in great orators: coaches, teachers, politicians to preachers. In the black community, rapping/speaking is an art form. Our successful speakers have always been charismatic, too and that's a formidable combination. Black churches fill up every Sunday to hear the "word". When I hear Barack speak I can hear the "word", not necessarily the apostolic word, but the spiritual word. When a speaker has your ear you are more susceptible to reasoning all that the speaker has to say. Public speaking is an art form. I'm sorry to say, but there is no one else on the Democratic ticket that affects me that way. However, on the Republican side, I find Mike Huckabee attractive.....when he speaks, I listen. Because I listen I do not agree with his positions. But, I'm open to hearing what the governor has to say. He, too, comes from that tradition. I struggle to listen (and stay awake) to other candidates only because I know I need to hear what everyone has to say.
Barb, try the "microbrother test": close your eyes and listen to Barack, Mario Cuomo or Barbara Jordan speak and let me know how you feel.
Date: 02/14/08 01:24:13
Subject: Re: Obama: Race & Power- a luta continua
Microbrother....I love the dialogue you've got going। Music is a good analogy...sometimes life is jazz and sometimes it's rock and roll....sometimes it's a symphony। I like that. Identity goes in many directions--how society views us and identifies with us, how we view other individuals, and how we view ourselves. Unless we're blind, it's probably unrealistic to think we're not affected by the way we look--our being. In a positive way, it's what makes each of us unique and special....(I'm not talking about the way we look at others, now, it's how we look at ourselves. Are we (and Obama and Hillary and McCain) comfortable in our own skins, as you say? I went to a great workshop with the deaf many years ago. The facilitator had us write down the 3 things that define us. We were all women, so that narrowed it down. The facilitator was gay, deaf, professor in that order. Another woman was black, woman, mother.....At that time in my life I was mother, woman, wife....yet only a year or two earlier (before kids) as I completed my studies & became a "professional," I would have been teacher, wife, woman. However, interestingly, the white women never included white....the black women almost always did....the gay women always did, the deaf did. Hardly anyone wrote woman first, but many included it somewhere. I'm almost certain men would not define themselves as men first (or would they even include it???). We even categorize and pigeonhole ourselves, don't we, if it adds to our Identity. And that's not a bad thing...Identity is a GOOD thing (from the inside out). It's only when people try to pigeonhole us that it's a problem....discrimination...and unfortunately, it does happen a lot. If we were all blind, I wonder if others would truly "see" us for what we are...see our souls, our personalities, our essence?? Or do blind people discriminate as well....interesting thought!
Perhaps it still begs the question w/ regards to Obama's identity and how he views himself. However, in my experience, I understand that society will attempt to define you, regardless of how you see yourself and I'm at peace with that.
Let's face it, it's a hell of a lot easier to categorize/pigeon hole people to four or five categories than to come up with a zillion variations of us all. You see this struggle in almost everything e.g. "it's not jazz and it's not quite rock-n-roll....let's call it world music.....honestly, I just don't know what to call it". The European mind-set always needed to be able to maintain logical order/categorization. But, on the real side, we are just one big "masala" or mixture of so many biological and social experiences.
I predict, if mankind survives it's self-destructive nature, it will become physically homogenous and this argument of race will someday be tantamount to the ancient question, "is the world flat or round?"
I'm certain that Obama, as the next President of the United States, is comfortable in his own skin because in order to confront the stuff that's going to be coming his way, he has to be!
I would be interested in other views on this age-old issue, too.
Date: 02/13/08 19:36:32
Subject: Re: Obama: Race & Power
OK thanks for this viewpoint. But it still begs the question w/ regards to Obama's identity and how he views himself.
Race has always been an issues as far back when people noticed differentiation with others. Europeans skillfully exploited this phenomenon in their effort to colonize the world.
Today, we can clearly see the effects of the British tactic of "divide and conquer" in India, where the caste system was exploited to control the country. Typically, the darker skinned Indians were subjugated to menial jobs and were not afforded the opportunities of the lighter-skinned Indians. The more British you looked and acted, the better your chances were to succeed under the British empire. As an attorney and a member of the Indian upper class, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi broke ranks with the status quo and sought to lift up all Indians by humbling himself to the level of the dark-skinned untouchables. His movement was successful and it won India's independence from Great Britain, but the "head trip" or the mind-set created by the British still exists, today.
On the shores of this country, slave impresario Willie Lynch, in 1712 published a handbook for slave owners with instructions on how to control slaves: among other means, making one better than the other. Most recently, we had black social clubs that excluded other blacks who did not past the brown paper bag test. This test excluded blacks folks who wanted membership because their complexion was too dark.
I know, this is year 2008, why are we still thinking like this? What the European did to us and what we continue to do to ourselves is, perhaps, the most awesome mind manipulation known to man.
As I travel throughout the world, I see how the Indian case-study was duplicated and used. It never ceases to amaze me to see in multi-ethnic countries, it is always the darker-skinned people who are at the bottom of the socio-economic totem pole.
As you may remember, I joined the All African Peoples Revolutionary Party when I was in college. That experience forced me to look at some of these issues. Believe me, it got real personal. We examined the whole notion of beauty....what is beautiful? We began to look at beauty from an African perspective and it opened a whole new world. I saw a rainbow of beauty. When I met Alfreda, I thought she was the most beautiful woman there was! Everyone thought she was from Africa.
All we have to do is look at pop-culture, the media. Who is betrayed as beautiful? Who is portrayed as successful? Who is portrayed as acceptable? Fortunately, today, I see value in everyone, but it was a developmental process because I was programmed, too. Everyone is not/can not go through the reeducation process, needed. First, I saw beauty. Then, I saw soul. Until then, race will always be an issue with people, especially, when power and money is the end game.
Date: 02/11/08 16:02:48
Subject: RE: Family matters
Oh I am proud of him as well Big Brother. I am having issues with the bigger discussion on Obama as to what race or who if he is white or black or even African American or African European- he is a man of color and I believe character. Truly he has had struggles that we dont know because his back groundlets talk truth- we are all mix with some other race but our experiences as we walk the streets, go into our work places, go into eating galleries, or even purchasing items we are see and are related to as black men and women and not after all our education, accomplishments, etc. - we are still seen as black. So, the questioning of these issues is only a distraction and for our own to engage these discussion is for what purpose? But it only takes away from the people of color and regressing back to the light skin / dark skin division. Thanks.
Sent: Monday, February 11, 2008 3:30 PM
To: The FamilySubject: Family matters
My sister, Pastor Toni,
I'm sorry that you disagree, but this is a discussion about the future of all of us. As much as I love my family, I would never discuss anything personal about family members that would harm them. However, we are talking about the potential outcome of something important that may be greater than us, individually.
We should want to share our thoughts to help develop one's thinking and not be closed to new ideas and opinions. That's what this whole political process is about. We could choose to only speak to those who look like us or think like us or have the same blood. But, I believe this would only stifle personal development.
I guess I'm just at an age, now, when self-expression and the truth can't hurt anymore.
p.s. I'm proud of that old runaway slave, Henry Smith!
Date: 02/11/08 14:21:19
Subject: RE: Figurative Speech
microbro- I dont think none family info needs to be shared with everyone. (this was addressed to you) As you can tell I disagree greatly.
Sent: Monday, February 11, 2008 1:34 PM
To: The FamilySubject: Figurative Speech
Good to hear from you.
Yes, I'm well aware of his ancestry. When I wrote, I was writing, figuratively. I believe Obama is more acutely aware of our experience than other candidates. If he's lacking any awareness, I'm sure the streets and Michelle have enlightened him.
Look, let's face it, for any person of color to garner enough support to become president, that person has to have the support of the majority. A successful candidate can neither be too conservative nor too radical. Yes, Obama has white blood as well as black blood and his views are somewhat centrist. He is intelligent, elegant and well spoken. He has captured the imagination of the whole world and is galvanizing folks of all stripes in this country in historical proportions! I can't think of better ingredients for success.
With reference to mental health treatment in our community, I do know that is a hot-button issue, as is AIDS, employment, drugs and all of the other social ills of our community. I don't expect this candidate to have the answers for everything, but I do expect that those learned people in our community be prepared to work with the candidate to address these issues. I encourage anyone who may have concerns with any positions of the Obama Campaign to, please, go to his site or get in contact with a campaign official and get clarity.
I believe an Obama might not have worked twenty years ago. And by the same token, an Obama might not work twenty years from now. But, I do believe Barack Obama is the right person today.
It's good to have you onboard, June.......welcome.
Date: 02/11/08 11:45:01
Subject: Re: Henry is Beaming!
Great writing! Wonderful ideas - but Barack - and, you may wish to debate me on this - is not a descendant from Henry nor is he in the true sense of the word even an African-American. Rather, he is an African-European, his mother being European and his father being African. He didn't experience what our ancestors experienced in this country so I don't think we can included him in that mix. (Nor does he align himself that way.) On another note, he is likeable (I even voted for him in the Florida election when my candidate of choice, Ron Paul, did not appear to be garnering enough votes to be a "real" possibility) - though some say that his (Baracks) platform is not that much different from Hillary's.
The one thing I don't like about Barack is that he beleives that we don't have enough mental health institutions in the U.S., and, if you have been keeping up with the mental health field, you know that more of our children are being prescribed drugs - from Ritalin to Prozac - than ever before! And and who's benefitting, the pharmaceutical cos. that's who. Barack needs to be enlightened in this respect!
Thought I should share this w/ you.
All the best,
This Tuesday, we will have one of the greatest opportunities in our lifetime to impact the future of the world for generations to come, to vote Senator Barack Obama as the Democratic presidential nominee of the United States of America.
Yes, this Tuesday, we can add our voice to the billions of people on this planet who know that a change is needed in America. For others in the world may know, perhaps better than we, that if change does not come soon enough, political strife or nuclear/environmental Armageddon is inevitable.
I believe out of each generation comes individuals that capture the imagination of us all and have the ability to do something great. I believe that Barack Obama is such a person. He has an unique perspective on the domestic/international stage because he is that candidate who was nurtured in the womb of our history and birthed through the loins of our struggle.
It is this young mans face that the world needs to see to prove, in spite of the historical injustices heaped upon his people, we can still rise to lead this country. To represent all the good that America can do for mankind. It is this young mans voice that the world needs to hear, to assure it that we are truly brothers and sisters who need to help one another and cease the need to perpetuate self-interest aggression. It is this young mans stature that we need to uphold to represents the best of the best.
Family, at this time, I think of those recent great spirits that have gone on before us, like Fannie Lou Hamer, at her own peril, spoke truth to power about the right to vote. I think of Shirley Chisholm, who placed the seed in our mind that it is possible to be president. I think about all of those folks that fought, kicked and pushed for this day to come. I think about those in our history that made the ultimate sacrifice to make February 12, 2008, possible.
Let us make that old runaway slave, Henry Smith, proud! Get out there and vote Senator Barack Obama as the Democratic presidential nominee for President of the United States! And in doing so, we must remember that the struggle does not end there. We must continue to push for the ideals that will make this world a better place for us all. Thank you.
Your humble family servant,