Celtic Diva's Blue Oasis: The Obama Speech--A Father's Perspective and a comment from Celtic

Friday, August 29, 2008

The Obama Speech--A Father's Perspective and a comment from Celtic

Below is a wonderful piece by a friend of Kaerick's with his reactions to the Obama speech. He wasn't there but he might as well have been--his reactions resounded profoundly with me, especially the reactions he had as the parent of a mixed-race child.

I learned the depths of my own feelings that morning as the "community passes" were being passed out and I learned that my 10-year-old Morrigan actually had a shot at going to Invesco Field. The tears started coming and I couldn't stop them. My vision of the speech had always been standing there and watching it side-by-side with my daughter...explaining to her the importance of the connection between MLK's "Dream" speech and what was happening before her eyes. However, I had resigned myself to the reality that despite all of my efforts, she not only could not be by my side, she could not be there at all.

Suddenly, that all changed.

We sat while members of the delegation met to try and hand out the passes fairly. Suddenly, it turned out that both Writing Raven and Morrigan were going. I kept crying...I couldn't sit with Morrigan but Raven would, another female of color like my daughter who understood well the gravity of this event because of the wise teachings of her mother and grandmother.

At Invesco, my cell phone died early because Morrigan kept texting me asking me questions and reminding me that we really were there together. I was moved to tears at many points because I realized that Morrigan was hearing the same thing...from Martin Luther King's grown children, from various folks from around the country sharing their problems and why they support Obama, from Barack Obama's amazing and overwhelming narrative...which left me breathless and beaming.

So, we post this as kind of a "Team Blue Oasis" coverage of the speech and I include my pictures and video of the beginning and end crowd reactions.

A good friend of mine in Florida who is the father of a wonderful 5 year old mixed race child shared his thoughts with me about the Obama speach that I felt were powerful and moving. I will attempt to convey my own thoughts, but his were so moving that I felt compared to share them. With his permission, here is what Steven in Florida felt about Obama's acceptance speech:

Last night, I decided to watch the Obama acceptance speech at the DNC with an open mind. I am a registered Green Party member who does not believe in preemptive war (as our actions have a very bad habit of coming back to haunt us) , is very concerned about the status and health of the planet (as we have only one), and thinks our corporate trade policy is quickly becoming a race to the bottom, and our security policy seems designed to keep everyone who disagrees away from those in power. No one talks to anyone different. Ideas are not given room to evolve.

I find it hard to fathom that with all of the wealth of planet Earth, that we have people who are poor, sick and dying because others think they need to have so much.

I find it hard to fathom that as a planetary people, we can't sit down at a table and discuss our differences like civilized people. The more I talk to those I don't agree with, the more I find we have the same end goals - we want our children smart, healthy, safe, and permitted the opportunity to go further than we do. We want our health, our safety and our opportunity to improve our lot in life.

It's not about so-called "1 world government", it's about what your mom taught you when you were 4. That everyone should be respected, no matter what they look like, or how they dress, or what they believe, as long as they aren't trying to hurt you.

Every election, I keep hoping that the candidates speak to me, whether local, state or national. Every election, I want things to be different. I want everyone to progress. The table truly is big enough. They never do. I'm either talked down to, or my issues never get addressed. I vote for candidates who speak for me. I will not cast a "strategic vote".

The recent campaign has worried me because of several things. First off, the same tactics of a campaign based on personality and personal attacks and not a real sense of what the policies of the major candidates will be. The only way you could find that was through alternate media, which provided detailed analysis of candidates, their records, their staff - really substantive analysis.

The MSM worried about what they were wearing, is america ready to elect a(n) (insert divisive typing here, such as black, old, female, etc...) candidate.

It was with cautious optimism that I turned to cspan (didn't want someone to tell me what I thought, I just wanted to watch it straight up.)

As Obama walked to the stage, something started to bubble up within me. The importance of the moment was not lost on me.

45 years ago, MLK Jr. delivered his speech on the Mall in Washington.

47 years ago, Emmett Till was murdered for interacting with a white woman.

And here we have the first American of African descent winning the nomination for president of the United States. So yes, I was very curious about what was to come.

Barack Obama got my attention right away.

"more Americans are out of work and more are working harder for less."

Yes, I put in more hours and get less money. I have actually LESS money now than last year at this time.

"more have lost your homes and even more are watching your home values plummet"

More people I know have hit points where they were literally worried about keeping their house, or are one illness or one missed check away from abject poverty, and I have direct experience with this.

"More of you have cars you can't afford to drive, credit cards, bills you can't afford to pay, and tuition that's beyond your reach.

"We are a better country than this."

Yes! I keep saying, "Why do we have poor people? Why do people die from anything other than non-preventable, untreatable disease? Why does the conversation devolve into stereotypical, racist, classist, ineducated and frankly RUDE soundbite-fest?"

So yes, I'm ready to listen.

And it continued. On issue after issue, point after point, I kept nodding my head. Not that all of it was I wanted to hear, to be sure - We could have done without clean coal, nuclear power (what are you going to do with thousands of years in half-life?) 10 years to end dependance on Middle East Oil? How about we end dependence on --all-- fossil fuels (we can give the workers in these industries to the new green jobs)?

So no, I do not agree with Barack Obama in totality. But in listening to this speech, I heard something that I had not heard in anyone for some time.

Love. Love of this country. Love of what it could possibly become, and passion for what it should be and is not now. Many of us, progressive minded folk especially, have thought we were locked out of this conversation. And I have been talking about this with my conservative friends.

(For the record, I don't believe in marching in lock-step. I -like- candidates who can think for themselves and adjust positions accordingly. Who aren't so rigid in their thinking that they can't empathize with others needs.)

In those conversations my thinking has been more along the lines of "our sense of common purpose.

"We may not agree on abortion, but surely we can agree on reducing the number of unwanted pregnancies in this country."

YES! And there's more than 3 ways to do that.

"the reality of gun ownership may be different for hunters in rural Ohio than they are for those plagued by gang violence in Cleveland, but don't tell me we can't uphold the Second Amendment while keeping AK-47s out of the hands of criminals."

YES! I have had cousins shot at. Guns should NOT be easy to acquire. Period. Everyone packing everywhere does not make me feel safe. It DOESN'T.

"We can agree that our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters deserve to visit the person they love in a hospital and to live lives free of discrimination."

YES! I have not forgotten that it was just 41 years ago that my marriage could not have happened legally. It is not fair that a healthy, loving relationship be denied because of a narrow-minded definition of what "love" is.

"passions may fly on immigration, but I don't know anyone who benefits when a mother is separated from her infant child or an employer undercuts American wages by hiring illegal workers"

YES! These are not objects. They are human beings. With families. With dreams. Are they not allowed a right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness? Are these things only reserved for Americans? Who said we were "the chosen people"?

Obama has me believing in the 3rd option. Holding firm in some places, and compromising in others, all with the goal of elevating everyone's lot in life. Everyone. By making the choices stark. If I choose to be a bus driver, that's okay. If my ambition is to go further, then I should only be restricted by my abilities.

We are better, people. There is too much wealth for anyone to be left out. There are too many people with dreams deferred. Now maybe I am egalitarian. But I want everyone to have the best that they choose to. Our current level of consumption, industry, and corporatism cannot be sustained. It just CAN'T.

Do we not understand that everyone doesn't want 7 houses? I'm personally doing my best to hold on to ONE. I don't need millions of dollars, I just want to be able to start a business, raise my family, stay healthy and enjoy my life. It's not terribly complicated.

I started thinking these things were possible after last night's speech.

The weight of the moment reached back through my ancestry.

My son, who has mixed ancestry (as I do, just further up my family tree), wanted to know what I was doing watching TV. I explained calmly that the man on the tv had parents that looked like he did. And that today was a very important day. He asked me why. I said that I'm now proud to be able to answer many of his questions honestly. He asked me why.

I couldn't get through the answer without my voice breaking, tears rolling down my face. I did my best.

"Son, now, if you ask me if you could be President of the United States of America, I can tell you the truth in no uncertain terms. Yes. Yes you can."

When you have been told in various ways, overtly and covertly that your ideas don't matter, that you are a second class citizen and/or worthless, to see true signs of equality is heartwrenching. I can't wait for us to have multiple candidates from multiple parties across all walks of life.

What just happened is only the tiniest step. But an important one.

I can vote for love. I'm so tired of people trying to justify hate.

I've been crying off and on since watching this speech. I get it.

Feel free to respond in kind. I'd love to know your thoughts as well.

Peace be upon you, and all you care about.


Anonymous Doug Sharp said...

Thank you so much for sharing that.

I grew up in the segregated Florida of the 50's. My parents were liberals outraged at the cruelty of Jim Crow. My Dad attended King's I Had a Dream speech. I just wish he'd lived to see Obama's speech.

8/31/2008 11:33 PM  

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