There's been talk of people staying home if Obama wins, to celebrate and mark the occasion. Without being able to say why, exactly, I feel strongly that life should go on as normally as possible. To me, to have a brown-skinned person as a President is long overdue. But if he gets elected, it's not going to end racism. The heavens won't suddenly part with a choir of singing angels. In fact, the real work will only just have begun. Plus... we've got to make it to Inauguration Day in one piece. But THAT day? I won't be at any kind of a piece of job...
Besides, I keep thinking of my Grandfathers... Grandpa Will who was "51 Percent Garveyite" and who wrote the following creed for himself in 1922:
Do not let thoughts of the horrors of Hell prevent you from doing wrong; nor the peace and joy to be had in Heaven persuade you to do right; but do right as though you were ignorant of your reward for doing right, or your damnation of doing wrong. In other words, do right because it is right to do right, and not because of fear.He was a little bit of a stickler for things, from what I understand... a little rigid. Even that passage is a little overdone. He wasn't exactly a joyous man. He went to work every day. I never got to meet him; when my father was 19 he had a heart attack on the subway platform on his way to work. But Grandpa Will would have been beside himself these days... and if he were able to, I know he would have gone to work tomorrow just to point out that it was the "right thing to do".
Grandpa Truman on the other hand, made it a point to enjoy life... he spent freely, drank much, enjoyed the company of women (much to my grandmother's ire-she referred to them as "husseys") and friends, but he was loyal as hell and from all accounts was a pretty good lawyer. He fought for those things he thought was right, stood up for the truth as he saw it, even if what he thought or was fighting for was unpopular. He didn't waver. And I know for a fact he would have been at work, calling folks on the phone, talking shit, enjoying the day.
So even though I really have no piece of a job, and I've got a lot of stuff to do to get ready for this show... and even though I'd rather be in Harlem people-watching, as of this moment the plan is for me to go to work. It's actually the ONLY day I'm working this week. Broke ass that I am.
But yesterday, because of Black Solidarity Day, I didn't work. And now that I think about it, I don't think I spent any money, cuz uh, I have none. I went to visit FatLady and keep her company while she cleaned up (cuz cleaning is much easier with company). On the way there I wandered through Central Park for a minute because the leaves were so beautiful.
Then I met up with OneHalf at the Harlem For Obama Office on what used to be 8th Ave and 133rd.
Harlem was quiet, but there was a low hum of intensity just under the surface. All kinds of people stopped by the office to volunteer; run off copies, fold fliers, make a plan to manage the lines for today. I was wearing one of my Fringed/beaded jackets, and noticed a woman of Native descent who only "saw" me without saying anything... she was wearing a Native watch. An elderly Caucasian woman was there, volunteering to man phones tomorrow, as well as several elderly church ladies, a crazy man and a few young women.
We folded flyers explaining the Democratic column in New York for a little while, enjoying the company and the hum of activity. It suddenly dawned on me how huge this is. Whether Senator Obama wins or not, in years to come this time will be read about in history books. And if he wins....
I was glad that I was there, in Harlem, which in previous years had been the center of African-American consciousness. She has survived the ravages of time, drugs, poverty and gentrification pretty much with the same spirit. Because even though Harlem is decidedly different (cuz when I was kid I NEVER went to upper 8th Ave... it was WAY too wild) that basic spirit is still there.
Later on I picked the Sun up from school and decided on-the-fly to attend OneHalf's "Pre-Election-Call People in Swing States" Party. Which meant I hung out with FatLady for the few hours in between, mainly cuz I knew I could catch a nap riding around in her van. My insomnia is at it's peak and the night before I only caught an hour of sleep, and felt myself crashing at 3P. We heard that Tut, Obama's grandmother passed, and the text messages passed between us all. To me... I took it as a sign that Tut knew it would be OK, and she could go. Plus... maybe she can pull some
At 6:30 we got to another friend's beautiful home right at the edge of Harlem, and there was plenty of food and excited chatter. I don't do phone calls; I have a thing about calling people on the phone sometimes, but I forwarded some text messages to folks I haven't spoken to in a long while, urging them to vote. My parent friend from Yonkers texted back "Obama! Obama!". The kids ran around downstairs in the playroom and popped up for food. It was a great time; I normally go home and don't attend gatherings cuz I live so far and it takes so much energy to get home, but I was really glad I was there. I enjoyed watching my friends make phone calls... sometimes they got hung up on; sometimes they were told the person was voting for McCain. But a huge cheer went up whenever someone confirmed Obama as their choice.
The Sun and I got home about 11p. There's no school in NY today so we all slept a little late. Bigbear and the Professor both called at 8A to report long lines at the booths at 6A in the morning, but ShoeFly and I laughed that there are no lines out here on the Rock... where I'm about to go... and cast my vote for the first viable and (openly) brown-skinned man that has ever run for President of the United States in over 200 years.
*In 1969, the call was for Blacks to stay away from the madness of U.S. society. Africans in the diaspora were asked to stay home--no work, no school, and no travel. If we, as a people, did so the day before a so-called national election, our absence would make our collective presence felt. If this were accomplished, we would be able to force a racist and recalcitrant society to address our issues. We would then confront our oppressors by not providing labor for their benefit.