Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Been Longer Than I Anticipated...

since I last posted. Lot to say... ha ha! that Fat Lady says I cram a lot into one post and I do. I've actually thought about labeling them "Spaghetti" posts cuz that's what it's like in my own head... they are all related. But then, I would obsessively have to go through my blog and relabel a bunch of stuff, so maybe I'll just leave it alone. But I'm feeling that I probably won't.

First thing... a friend of mine, who I met online, but then have spent time with in the real world and have come to really like her, her 8 month old is in the hospital with meningitis. He's had some ups and downs but his prognosis is essentially good. I mention this here because I believe in the power of prayer, and the more people that send up a prayer on this baby's behalf, the better.

But knowing something like this--that a baby is sick--reminds me that while I get lost on the other strands of my life, the strand that is most important to me are the children. Mine (my one, I mean, as well as my nieces and grand-nephew), but all babies. It's a strand that's the longest and most intertwined with everything else, because to me, nothing else REALLY matters. TinyOne is also in the hospital today... but it seems he has a bad cold/and or allergic reaction to BigBear's dog and that he will most likely have asthma and severe allergies like his mama, and he's not running a temperature.

I'm fighting something myself; I have that "nasty" feeling and I'm so sleepy I've been falling asleep ANYWHERE for the past two days. Including sitting in a chair in a corner at the Sun's school, with my coat over my head. I NEEDED about 10 minutes of sleep; my body just shut down.

The other day I was in the Sun's school so that I could go with them on a class trip. My old High School, Fiorella H. LaGuardia School Music and the Arts, in conjunction with the St. Luke's Orchestra and Joy Oberfelder Dance Projects, did a production of "Dido and Aeneas", at LaGuardia's ginourmous auditorium. I only ended up going as a fluke (which was a funny fluke but you had to be there to appreciate it and it's not essential to this post), and I had NO IDEA it was at LaGuardia till I found myself herding children off the bus and looking up at the giant building.

My class, the class of '84, was the last graduating class from what was then known as "Music and Art", the sister school to "Performing Arts" which was known because of the movie "Fame". We always felt that we were the step-sister school, as were uptown in Harlem. No attempt was made for my class to feel a part of the new building and so since I've graduated, I've been to the "new"building maybe three times including yesterday. And my HS was such a huge part of my life that under other circumstances I might have been an extremely involved alumni.

But it's been what 20 years? and I got a serious pang looking at the bust of Toscanini, now firmly bolted in the new building and which had sat in the small lobby of the old building. And I got a little misty-eyed watching the kids in the Senior Chorus perform in the production; Senior Chorus was mandatory and the year I was there we did the "Carmina Burana". It was a simply awesome experience.

The production itself was enjoyable... they had taken the second-through-fifth graders from the Sun's school and I think it was slightly over the heads of the second graders. I ended up sitting next to two very squirmy second-graders from the Sun's class, and the only thing that kept them focused was my running commentary on what was happening on stage. The older kids got the mildly sexual references and giggled at them, but they gave the dancers a ROUSING round of applause when the show was over. I could see how much the performers enjoyed that... it can be hard to reach a kid and when you do, it's the best feeling in the world.

But I was mildly annoyed when I realized that the performance was happening at the exact same time as Obama's speech on race though thanks to the Treo I could go online and read the transcript... but I couldn't really do it while the performance was going on.

And that was ironic as well, because I realized early in the morning that the speech was happening, and while waiting to leave for the school trip, OneHalf and I got into a rousing and heated debate about what's happening with the primaries. She's none too happy at my declaration that if Hillary gets the nomination, I'm changing my party status. She says I should become Independent and/or refrain from voting if I feel that strongly, but I say listen, if I'm gonna be fucked, I want to be fucked with my eyes open and the lights on. I'm an all-or-nothing chick, and I hate being sucker-punched. So if this thing unravels and we end up with Hillary, I'm switching to Republican and I'm voting for McCain, because at least I'll be on the "winning" side. I'm tired of being broke, I'm tired of struggling, and there are times when I really wonder what's the point of fighting for good? It doesn't seem to matter some days. OneHalf was mortified. Especially since she says I turned her on to Obama in the first place. I told her that as long as Obama's in the running I'm an ardent supporter.

The thing is, I hope I'm wrong about what I feel. I hope. I Hope--for good, for positive thinking, for decency and honesty and for someone as a leader of this country who truly believes in what they are doing. And who believes they can do it in an honest and non-partisan way. I believe, particularly after Obama's speech Tuesday, that the man believes in what he's saying. But I wonder who's listening. A brief poke around various forums and blogs and comments has revealed all the nasty, racist zombies crawling out of the woodwork, and whereas before the comments were only mildly racist and a little disturbing, after Tuesday some of them were blatantly racist and downright depressing. Talking about "running the niggers" out and shit like that. My only hope is that like after a rainstorm, all the little grubs and nasty things are flushed out, so it's not there are more of them, it's just they are more visible.

But I dunno.

It amazes me how people close their ears and eyes to things; come up with a position and stand there swinging to defend it even if time and circumstance prove they are wrong. I mean I'm a stubborn bitch... I can dig my heels in with the best of them but if you can prove to me that I'm wrong, if you can show me your reasoning, I will at least hear you. And you just might win me over, at which point I'll defend you with everything I've got... EVEN if I was at complete odds with you initially.

There will be a million commentaries on his speech. Some people feel it's one of the most profound since MLK's "I Have A Dream". Some people feel it was honest. Some people think it was calculated and cold, and just more rhetoric.

My observations don't count for much in the overall scheme of things, but as one little person, one little crazy, non-traditional opinionated asshole shouting in the dark, and seeing it's how it's my blog anyhow... here's what I think, again in no particular order:
  • I thought the 4 flags was a little much (correction - 8 flags), two would have been sufficient and three is a nice odd number. When I design I try to use an odd-number of elements because it gives things an "edge".
  • The absence of any political slogans was an interesting effect. Some noted that it was calculating... geared at seeming "Presidential", or a "State Of the Union", as opposed to a stump speech. But having read his book, and understanding his observations on race on a slightly different level seeing as how I didn't grow up here, I'm inclined to believe that the absence of political banners was because he needed to say something that was important to him. Deeply important... and he didn't want that message to be mistaken for simple political rhetoric. It was if he finally said "OK, listen people. I don't think of myself as simply "black", but you do. And you want me to address 'race'? You won't let me be until I do? OK, here it is. This is who I am, what I think" and I'd be surprised if he continues to address this. My gut is telling me that this was a one-shot deal... after this it'll be back to the banners and the "Yes We Can" and the Universal Health Care, but yesterday he was talking about something, something deeply personal that he struggled with for years.

    Being "Other" or "Bi-" or "Multi-"racial in this country is an interesting thing, because EVERYTHING you do, every job you apply for, every form you fill out forces you to choose a side or a race... particularly if you're brown. And those who are brown but who's mothers are not face a particular dilemma, because they essentially grow up on the Other Side of the Divide by virtue of who their mother is. But because of the way they themselves look, they face a particular kind of distance that's not easily understood. The Sun won't have that same dilemma... he's pale, but he lives with me in my essentially brown world and no one will ever question that he's "black". One look at me, and his race is automatically decided. But for someone like Obama or Halle Berry or my father's white friend's adopted bi-racial daughter... different ballgame.
  • The only thing I didn't like is that Obama still thinks in terms of "black and white", and I wonder if he could be persuaded to think in terms of cultural definitions as opposed to "colors". My narcissistic tendencies are inclined to send him a copy of some of my posts on the subject.
  • It was convenient for him that he got to address this issue in Philadelphia, of all places. And he maximized the opportunity. Slick. But I like that he's slick.
  • His grandma... the more racist and nasty of the comments I've seen accuse him of throwing his grandma under the bus, which is really stupid considering he threw neither her nor his former pastor under the bus. And I had a grandpa who fought for racial equality on several fronts, but was real quick to call brown-skinned people "niggers". This was particularly disturbing to me considering how light he was. I felt the point Obama was making was that you can love someone, and be loyal to them but it doesn't mean you agree with EVERYTHING they do. When you love someone--truly love someone, you tend to let a lot of shit go, particularly if on the whole they are good people, just have one or two really disturbing traits. And having read his book, where he wrote in great detail about his grandmother's admission that she was afraid of coming home alone at night because of some black men she'd seen, I knew how much this incident upset him and his grandfather (her husband) because his grandfather chose to ignore race altogether. There are people who think if they ignore racism, it won't affect them. And this is something I understand, because I felt like that for a long time. Till I realized that no matter that I feel that there is no such thing as race, racism still exists. And he had met Rev Wright under other circumstances, as he was trying to organize people in Chicago. It was Rev Wright's church that drew Obama to Christianity, so I can see where he would have a loyalty.
  • Personally, I admired that while he renounced his former pastor's statements, he didn't condemn the man himself, and was very open about why he had affection for him. I admire loyalty in a person. It was different when he renounced Farrakhan; he doesn't appear to know him personally. But he knew his pastor personally, and spent a fair amount of time with him. People have all sorts of ideas about whether or not he could distance himself from Rev. Wright, but seriously. Why should he? And what makes that guy more dangerous than say, Jerry Falwell? Or some of the other racist "white" Evangelicals. Or the Catholic Priests who condemn abortion or homosexuality loudly and in graphic detail from their pulpits. People are so fucking hypocritical.
  • Which leads me to another thought, which is that organized religion and churches and temples are a funny thing, and religious leaders, like politicians, can have big egos and are not infallible. There is a fair amount of narcissism involved with being a "leader" of any type, and the more charismatic they are, the more likely they are to have skeletons.
  • I've been to some sermons in "Black Churches" where statements were made that would make your skin crawl. And I've been to a Jewish temple where it was quite obvious my "black" ass wasn't entirely welcome. Which is why I tend to steer clear of organized religion. Too many people thinking all one way, and this is dangerous, in my opinion. Doesn't mean I don't believe in God or His power, because I do. But human beings suck. Shark-Fu had a really well-written post on her experiences in "fiery" "black" churches, and some thought-provoking comments. You should check them out.
  • It's funny how JUST the other day I was posting here about anger... and I had said how dangerous undirected anger was. You see? I knew I wasn't the only one who felt that way.
Overall, I found the speech to be deeply moving and honest. It gave me hope that maybe we can all move past this division. Even if we all can't "just along", maybe we can just leave each other the hell alone. Really. I don't get why people HAVE to denigrate others, have to elevate themselves by destroying someone else. But as I've said before, humans are self-destructive.

If for some reason you haven't read the transcript of his speech, you really should. Even if you can't stomach the man and therefore can't accept his delivery (which was decidedly low-key given his usual fervour), read what was written. It's worth it. Or even better, watch it.

I still want to see him get the nomination. Not for all the political bullshit, but because it would prove to me, prove to my Sun that America is willing to try change our history, to try something totally new, to take a chance on us. Us humans. I still want to be wrong; I want for OneHalf to smirk at me on November 5 and tell me "I TOLD you he could win."

But if he doesn't get the nomination, I stand by my promise; I'll switch my political affiliation, and I'll put up a McCain button and I'll vote for McCain in the fall. And then I might not vote again for a long, long, long, time. Cuz I'm stubborn like that.

5 comments:

Bonnie said...

On my god, McCain? He is Nixon all over again.

I was very impressed by Obama's speech. It was so different from anything that I have heard a candidate say in recent years. He actually dared to have nuance and subtlety in a political speech.

I think Obama will get the nomination. And then McCain and the Rpublican machine will eat him alive. And we will dig deeper into Iraq, and healthcare will not get fixed, and the rich will continue to be happy.

The Bear Maiden said...

See, the odd thing is I don't think so. I think if Obama makes it that far, if he overcomes Hillary he can overcome McCain. Hillary is a bigger threat to Obama because she can tear him down from the inside. And McCain made a major faux pas the other day, that only didn't make the front pages because of the speech. And plus, McCain is looking more and more "doddering" as the race goes on. I also think that if Obama wins the nomination, he won't have won it easily and there are enough people, honest hardworking people (not the racist slimy people) who will stand behind him because they DON'T want to see McCain.

Carrie said...

I thought this speech was amazing. Truely amazing. And while he did speak of 'black and white', he also acknowledged that it's not all Black and White. KWIM? How you can love someone who *is* afraid to walk down the street with a Black man.

I've been Hillary supporter (in the closet), but this speech. THIS speech changed my mind. I believe him and believe IN him and his purpose.

I've been thinking a lot about being defined by your appearance. About how you're whole interaction with people can be defined just by how you 'look' (or how people think you look). It happens to me as a woman in a man's working environment, and as much as that drives me crazy, it's nothing compared to if my skin wasn't white. No answers, but just wanted you to know that I've been thinking about your experience a LOT (and the experiences of some of my friends, who have been US citizens for 5 generations, but still get questioned 'what are you?' when they travel to the mainland).

The Bear Maiden said...

Carrie, all I can say is Wow, I am moved. Your thoughts and introspection give me hope that we're gonna be alright...

The Life of Princess Grace said...

You know, Bear, that most of the normal people our age don't see the world in terms of color/relgion/etc. I don't. I'm proud to have you as a friend as I do the EPMs we both know. I see everyone as being pink with purple polka dots. But that is our generation. Obama is also a man of our generation. Look at his heritage: it's mixed. No one, bi- or multi-, should be forced to choose one race over the other while being ignored by the races they claim. Just keep the race in perspective and may we get someone who will help you, me and most of the women we know, do more than just exist. Living on what little money I get doesn't cut it while I wait for the SSA to decide if I'm handicapped or not. I'm bipolar. I don't deal well with people. I don't deal well with stress. I like being a Mommy.