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Commentary
Robinswing, Black Kos Editor

I’m tired of reporters having nothing else to ask of black people, asking if they ever thought that they would see the day when a black man gets to be President.  Truth of the matter is being black has meant holding quietly to dreams. Deferred. Delayed.  Never denied.  From beginning to end ours is a journey about quiet. Holding on in the quiet. About.  Faith.

I’m going to go ahead and fill some of you in.  When you have four hundred years worth of prayers as the backbone of your support, there is a lot of believing going on.

(commentary con't.)

Back in slavery days, black folk really identified with Jesus.  We lived the kind of suffering that is apparent when you look at Jesus on the cross.  I promise you that there were those who thought Jesus got off easy

You don’t struggle for centuries, holding on to the Bible and counting on Jesus to get you through without the belief deep down that one day things will change. Those folks weren’t marching, and dying to stay second class citizens forever.

I waited for some creative brother or sister, mike in hand, somebody, anybody to stop a white person and ask them if they thought they would ever see this day.  Their answers might have been revealing. That it was not questioned certainly is.

Being less than omniscient perhaps someone on a channel I wasn’t watching or a blog I did not read did ask. Just in case, I’m asking.

White people, did you ever think you would live to see this day?

What does it mean to a white person to finally have elected a black man to the Presidency?

What would your grandfather think of the events of January 20th?  What was your racial upbringing?

How much were you affected by having a truly dumb white man in the office?

Did you feel affected as a white person by the sheer ineptitude of Bush?  Did you feel responsible? As a white person?

In general, minorities have this real issue of hearing about something bad happening and praying a black man is not the culprit.  Do white folk go through the same thing?

The question I think should be asked of black people is this.  Do you think that you will see a difference in your neighborhood?  Will we stop killing each other now?  Is this an antidote to the programmed self hatred that has infected the black community for almost as long as there has been a black community?

I’m thinking this is a time for ideas.  What ideas are out there to use the energy of this time to energize young blacks, males and females?  Differently.

Maybe we need to organize in inner cities around the nation and create a grassroots movement to teach young men and women what they need to know to thrive in this culture.

We needed a hero.  Apparently so did America .  Obama volunteered.  Good on him.

I can see etched in his eyes, a determination, and an intention stronger than his rivals.  For the most part, people seem not to see it.  I find this amazing.

His slowness to anger probably stems from being 100 steps ahead.

There are still those who are preparing to take him down, to whittle him to size they determine.  No accident that it’s the Good Ole’ Boys Network that is making the first moves. I’m certain that their upbringing informed them that they are smarter than everybody black.  They do not see Obama as an exception. I do not fail to hear them rattle as they enter the room.  Neither does our President.

One of the nice things about getting older is learning that life leaves clues.  Like Hansel and Gretel some of us have been too dependent upon the crumbs.  It is easier to get older if you insist upon looking around you and paying attention.

There is a master afoot.

Now, run and tell that.


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THE SPEECH




THE DANCE



OUR HISTORY







Washington Post === D.C.'s High-Level Social Scene Now Mingles Black and White.

All night the Jordans' guests -- many VIPs in their own right -- surrounded Jarrett, eager to introduce themselves and welcome her to D.C. Business as usual. Every four or eight years, Washington's primarily white, influential, moneyed set rushes to cozy up to the new power brokers in town: Texans when George W. Bush arrived, Arkansas buddies when Bill Clinton came to town. The city's high-level social scene -- dinners, black-tie fundraisers, receptions, ubiquitous book parties -- is the place where money and experience are subtly traded for access and influence.

Except for the first time, the face of ultimate power is African American. With a black first family in the White House and a diverse group of appointees and Cabinet nominees, the all-white dinner party feels all wrong. Certain hosts are suddenly grappling with a new reality: They need some black friends. Overnight, black politicians, lawyers and journalists are hot properties, receiving engraved invitations from people they never got invitations from before. Blacks have gone from barely being on the list to being in charge of the list........More


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NY Times === In First Family, a Nation’s Many Faces.

When President Barack Obama was sworn in on Tuesday, he was surrounded by an extended clan that would have shocked past generations of Americans and instantly redrew the image of a first family for future ones.

As they convened to take their family’s final step in its journey from Africa and into the White House, the group seemed as if it had stepped out of the pages of Mr. Obama’s memoir — no longer the disparate kin of a young man wondering how he fit in, but the embodiment of a new president’s promise of change.

For well over two centuries, the United States has been vastly more diverse than its ruling families. Now the Obama family has flipped that around, with a Technicolor cast that looks almost nothing like their overwhelmingly white, overwhelmingly Protestant predecessors in the role. The family that produced Barack and Michelle Obama is black and white and Asian, Christian, Muslim and Jewish. They speak English; Indonesian; French; Cantonese; German; Hebrew; African languages including Swahili, Luo and Igbo; and even a few phrases of Gullah, the Creole dialect of the South Carolina Lowcountry. Very few are wealthy, and some — like Sarah Obama, the stepgrandmother who only recently got electricity and running water in her metal-roofed shack — are quite poor.......More


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The New Republic === It wasn't just what Obama said; it's how he said it. Like a black man.

Barack Obama's inaugural address was the first in a long time to resound powerfully enough to be worthy of marble. However, it was the first in the 220-year history of the custom in another way: its seasoning of black cadence. This was even more exhilarating in that the cadence played an integral part in the power of the oration.

Black English is a matter not just of slang, but of sentence structure and sound (why you can tell most black people's race over the phone, which is proven in studies). Some blacks use all three; Obama is one of the many who wields mostly the sound. Listen to the way he often ends sentences on a higher pitch than, say, Tom Brokaw would, with that preacherly hang-in-the-air. Or the way he often pronounces "history" as "historih," "ability" as "abilitih." His rendition of the word responsibility was indicative: with a cadence typical of Black English, capped by a final "ih." No President has ever intoned sentences in this way, because they were not black.

Contrary to the fabulistic notion that gets around here and there that Black English is an African grammar with English words, the sentence structure is basically a blend of regional British dialects that slaves heard from their masters and the indentured servants you learned about in grade school. The sound, however, is partly a legacy of the African languages the slaves spoke. Especially, the melodic quality of Black English, heightened in sermons and speeches, is a legacy of the fact that in many African languages, pitch is as important in conveying what words mean as accent. In the way he said responsibility, he was using language in a way that is warp and woof of the grammar of, for example, his father's native language Luo........More


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Ebony / Jet === Obama promises a change in Washington. Can we orchestrate one for TV programming while he’s at it?

Race relations aren’t going to magically change when the Obamas take their rightful places as the nation’s first family a month and a few days from now. Without a doubt race relations are arguably more hopeful than ever in most areas. Still, unfinished business remains. Nowhere is that more evident than on the tube.

There has rarely been a time when some among us haven’t complained about what’s on television. We’ve had our bright spots, mainly in the 1980s and early 1990s when "The Cosby Show," "A Different World," "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air," "In Living Color" and, depending on who you ask, "Martin." Ensemble pieces have stepped up from time to time and that’s true right now with "Grey’s Anatomy," "Ugly Betty," "ER," especially with Angela Bassett in the last season mix. By signing Laurence Fishburne on to replace original lead actor William Petersen, franchise-starter "C.S.I." is not going down without one hell of a fight.

As much as we’d like to control what actually makes it on the tube, the reality is that might be a pipe dream for now. God willing, that won’t always be the case but that’s today’s reality. We’re not powerless, though. By choosing what we watch, we can send a message to Hollywood. But the million dollar question is: do we really want to? After seeing Barack almost nightly on the evening news, not to mention regular doses of Michelle, Sasha and Malia during the campaign, can we really go back to a steady diet of "Flavor of Love" spin-offs?

So far the answer has to be a resounding "yes." How many of us have publicly heaped a bailout’s worth of criticism on "The Real Housewives of Atlanta" but still switched to Bravo in record numbers? "Real Chance of Love" has received so much play, catching it on VH1, at almost any hour, is as guaranteed as AIG burning a hole in their wallets with our money. And whereas Keyshia Cole’s "The Way It Is" once offered hope with its insistence on family counseling and collective healing, these days her former crackhead mama, Frankie, whooping and hollering almost every episode has turned that dream into one of our worst nightmares. But you certainly can’t tell by the ratings. They’ve never looked better.......More


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Ebony / Jet === Chef Jeff Uses The Food Network To Do Good, But Will It Cook?

Look what G. Garvin started. These days, you can’t look around without seeing a Black chef on television. While it’s true that Marvin Woods whipped up some interest with "Home Plate," his show at the now defunct Turner South, and B. Smith regularly got foodie on her longtime syndicated show, "B. Smith with Style," G. Garvin changed the game. His TV One show, "Turn Up the Heat with G. Garvin," has helped put him on the national hot list. You might recall his 2006 appearance on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno or perhaps you caught his October 2 appearance on Good Morning America. Somebody at the Food Network is taking notice because it’s certainly raining Black chefs these days.......More






BBC === Archbishop Desmond Tutu is among activists in southern Africa who have launched a fast and hunger strike in solidarity with the people of Zimbabwe.

The new Save Zimbabwe Now movement says African leaders must abandon the policy of quiet diplomacy and recognise there is no legal government in Zimbabwe.

A Johannesburg Methodist church, long a place of refuge for Zimbabweans in exile, will be the protesters' base. Power-sharing plans in Zimbabwe remain stalled since a deal in September. President Robert Mugabe and opposition factions ended 12 hours of talks on Tuesday with no progress.

The activists said they would protest next Monday at a special regional summit, set for South Africa or Botswana, that has been convened in the latest effort to break the deadlock.......More


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BBC === Commuters in Ivory Coast can now travel around town on the first ever buses designed for and built in the region.

The engineering arm of the national transport company, Sotra, decided it could save money and create a bus better suited to African conditions.

"We want the transfer of technology in Africa, and we want to build our own buses with our own specification," says Sotra Industries director Mamadou Coulibaly.......More





The Three Black Kids Who Taught Me About Racism. by grayday101

We Can't Watch The Inauguration - A Black Man Is Going To Be On There by Diarist

We have not reached the Promised Land. . . yet by Muzikal203

Revs. Lowery, Wright, and the Black Church by Wattree

Africa Part III: Wonderful Beautiful Musical Mali: Updated by LaFeminista

Originally posted to Black Kos on Fri Jan 23, 2009 at 07:33 AM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Republican are aready... (11+ / 0-)

    going back to their old ways of obstructionism. I think they should stay in the wilderness until they learn they're lesson.

  •  I didn't cry (13+ / 0-)

    until the singing of the National Anthem.

    CNN had a perfect shot of the President (still giddy saying that!) and the First Lady.

    (0.12, -3.33) ONE America! and I am Unanimous in that!

    by terrypinder on Fri Jan 23, 2009 at 07:36:56 AM PST

  •  this article is ROFL (16+ / 0-)

    Certain hosts are suddenly grappling with a new reality: They need some black friends. Overnight, black politicians, lawyers and journalists are hot properties, receiving engraved invitations from people they never got invitations from before. Blacks have gone from barely being on the list to being in charge of the list

    Oh how lovely.

    I'm not sure whether to laugh or scream.

    It reminds me of that site: Black People Love Us.

    (0.12, -3.33) ONE America! and I am Unanimous in that!

    by terrypinder on Fri Jan 23, 2009 at 07:37:47 AM PST

  •  I'm with you...I was so fed up... (10+ / 0-)

    watching the news media trying to show that somehow only black people had come to the Mall and that they were celebrating their "black" President.

    It was an American celebration...a truly...multi-cultural American celebration.  But the media was too dumb to see that.

    Answers to your questions:

    White people, did you ever think you would live to see this day?

    Actually, yes.  I was 100% convinced Obama would win after I saw him announce in Springfield and saw how he tied his story to the broader American narrative.

    What does it mean to a white person to finally have elected a black man to the Presidency?

    1. The Civil War is truly over.
    1. We have a new founding father who has brought new meaning to our Constitution.
    1. American has come full circle.

    What would your grandfather think of the events of January 20th?  What was your racial upbringing?

    My grandfather is a proud Roosevelt Democrat and he voted for Obama and dearly loves him.

    How much were you affected by having a truly dumb white man in the office?

    Too many adjectives...dumb is enough.

    Did you feel affected as a white person by the sheer ineptitude of Bush?  Did you feel responsible? As a white person?

    Actually, yes.  I didn't do enough to make sure he wasn't elected.

    Do you know what "cheese in my pants" means?

    by David Kroning on Fri Jan 23, 2009 at 07:41:21 AM PST

  •  Tell you how I felt. (14+ / 0-)

    I felt so fucking relieved to see that asshat take his skanky ass to that heliocopter I almost passed out.   No news there, right.  Yes, I thought I would live to see the day. But seeing the day was infinitely better than thinking it would come.  Did I feel responsible, as a WP that he'd screwed up so badly.   Nope.   But as a potential organizer and agitator and citizen of this land, yes, I did, because I wasn't willing to commit my self to rousting him as much as I should have.   What does it mean to me to have a BP as Pres?  Whew.  No way to answer that without sounding really stupid, but here goes.   I think the courtesy level at the WH will be improved about 5000%, as the trashy folk that just left had no idea at all about basic courtesy, civility, manners, whatever.   Just for starters, I mean.   They didn't know much about anything, but at least you can be courteous.  It means, also, that I don't have to look at all that wrinkly ugly pink, dessicated skin, bad smile, vacant expression, empty cranial thing when the Pres gives a talk.   That was way bummer.   There's more, but that's a start.

  •  Justice delayed is Justice denied (10+ / 0-)

    It time for blacks people   too strike the iron ,while the fire is hot and finally seek the justice that they had been denied for years, Black people should not be   satisfied   that we have a  black President and make those that continue to have racial hostility toward blacks  accountable for thier action,  by  starting criminal and civil legal action ,if your rights have been violated

  •  I put the wrong link (7+ / 0-)

    in my MF post - I revised, so this week may be glitchy. Will run over & post a stand alone link & will have it fixed next week -- sorry!

  •  Thanks! (9+ / 0-)

    Always a good time around here. I especially appreciate the recognition that Obama's family, and the White House social circle (thanks to superstar Social Secretary Desiree Rogers), are multiracial.

    Don't make first Grandma Robinson whip out the wooden spoon!

    by noabsolutes on Fri Jan 23, 2009 at 08:00:55 AM PST

  •  Without a doubt race is still an (7+ / 0-)

    issue in this country.
    I never felt, gave thought, or considered that bush represented me given his whiteness. bush embarrassed me as a human being. His intellectual and moral shortcomings would be as disturbing in any person of any race.
    This may be inflammatory but President Obama is also white. What does that mean to me? Nothing. I hope that being black means nothing to him as well. I am not seeking to deny anyone the rightful pride in the man and his accomplishments. His success, as the first "black President", is that he destroys the evil specter of racial limitations for all people.

    Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect. Mark Twain

    by Klick2con10ue on Fri Jan 23, 2009 at 08:09:05 AM PST

  •  Some answers. (9+ / 0-)

    White people, did you ever think you would live to see this day?

    Until last year, I can't say I did.  During the campaign, I became increasingly sure that things would turn out right.  Once Paris Hilton PWNED John McCain, I had no doubt that things would turn out right.

    Also remember back in grade school (4th grade, I think), a woman came and gave a presentation about the history of the presidents.  One of the observations from one of the black kids was, "There's never been a black president."  I remember the sadness in his voice and the awkwardness surrounding the answer "no."

    What does it mean to a white person to finally have elected a black man to the Presidency?

    I think my biggest question is will this make honest talk about race among white folk harder or easier.  I think in some ways, it'll be harder because it will confirm in some people's minds that we've already moved "beyond" race.  But I also think that Obama's victory will remove a layer of anxiety and guilt that will bring some defenses down.

    As a gay person, the post-election season has been very painful, and I think there's a lot of work on solidarity to be done.  

    What would your grandfather think of the events of January 20th?  What was your racial upbringing?

    My parents are German immigrants; I was born in the United States.  My grandfather was in the SS, so I can't imagine that he'd have been excited by the victory.  

    My racial upbringing - Let's see, until third grade, all my friends were Iranian or Cambodian.  From fourth to ninth grade, I was bused into inner-city schools, which were a weird mix of segregated and desegregated.  My mom noted aloud how when I went to the local school, I had friends of all sorts of races.  When I went to the inner-city school to be desegregated, all the friends I brought home were white.

    My parents had very different views on race.  My mom taught me progressive principles, of which anti-racism was a part.  My dad - my parents divorced when I was three - was and is very fond of racial stereotypes - he's one of the more blatantly racist people I know.  He actually would try to tell me that American slavery had nothing to do with race, because Africans also sold slaves.  That's how bad it is with him.

    How much were you affected by having a truly dumb white man in the office?

    Well, on the one hand, he was a kind of rallying point that gave a lot, I mean a lot of people a common enemy.  So, there was a kind of solidarity he fostered that was good.  But I think he and Cheney definitely gave me a sense of powerlessness in terms of building a truly inclusive society.  Not that it stopped me from making efforts, but I felt a strong sense of futility surrounding everything I did.

    Did you feel affected as a white person by the sheer ineptitude of Bush?  Did you feel responsible? As a white person?

    You know, that's really hard to answer, because I'm not sure to what extent I felt responsible as an American and to what extent I felt responsible as a white person, and to what extent, at some stupid level, I haven't learned yet to completely distinguish those things.  Food for thought there.

  •  Oh, and the opening of this diary (6+ / 0-)

    reminded me of a post by Renita Weems, a minister and biblical scholar, who writes about the younger generation of African-Americans as "the Joshua generation," who can take some of the achievements of the struggle for granted, but still have work to do.

    Joshua'em.

  •  The coverage - always asking black people (10+ / 0-)

    if they thought they'd ever see this day - struck me as white media sort of co-opting the day in order to self-congratulate.  I am white, and I believe I see a lot of this type of thing...as if to say, "See?  It was never as bad as you thought?  Things work out."  And so histories of struggle are airbrushed and photoshopped into the "change is inevitable without all of this disruptive racial protest business" meme.

    Or so it seems to me. But at a more grassroots level, among the white people who got deeply involved in the Obama campaign, I think there was often at least some degree of awareness that this is a lie.  No change is inevitable without people struggling against power structures.  That Obama ran his campaign according to good principles of community organizing was shocking, fresh, and spoke to so many people in ways that I believe are so deep that we will be a long time sorting out everything that happened  not only politically, but in our own hearts, minds, and souls.

    Or so I would like to believe.

    Here are my answers to your excellent questions:

    White people, did you ever think you would live to see this day?

    Yes, I did.  But I have two answers to this.  I became an Obama supporter in 2006, and I believed he could win, but it's not the same as being sure he would - especially during the earliest parts of the primary.  When I saw huge Obama momentum building in Montana, where I now live, I knew we would go the whole way.  But I did not know how visceral and powerful the emotions would be when Obama/we won and when he was inaugurated.  More visceral and powerful than I can say in one or two lines.  I am still alternately weeping, laughing.  So are many of my friends.  

    The other answer is that until this campaign, I feared that the first black person would be a Republican.  Not any specific Republican.  I just was so used to Democrats shooting ourselves in the foot that I thought while Democrats should produce the first black president, we might well screw up and not do it.

    What does it mean to a white person to finally have elected a black man to the Presidency?

    I'm still sorting that out.  The first thing it means is another chink in the wall of white supremacy.  A really good chink, but the wall isn't nearly going down yet.  On a more personal level, it just thrills me to see a black man - one of the  most criminalized figure in this nation's history (along with indigenous peoples) in charge of the executive branch of government.  Because an overwhelming majority of people of all races voted for him.  

    Struggles for racial justice are far from over; it bothers me that some people think this proves they are.  

    What would your grandfather think of the events of January 20th?  What was your racial upbringing?

    I never met either of my grandfathers.  One deserted my mother's family when she was young; the other died before I was born, a farmer who apparently was a pretty nasty piece of work.

    I knew my maternal grandmother; she lived with us when I was young.  The desertion by her husband and the Great Depression wrecked her desire to live a genteel life.  She worked hard, once as a house mother at the white orphanage in my southern Colorado town (my parents, sister and I lived 2 blocks from the black orphanage, Lincoln Home).  She hated black people, Chicanos, Jews, and Catholics.  A very bitter woman.  

    Our town, along the Front Range of the Rockies, had been a Klan town in the 1920s.  My mother grew up seeing giant crosses burned on a hill outside of town.  She hated and feared the Klan, but did not know how to break through racial barriers.  I grew up being taught that black people "were people, too," although my parents didn't challenge structural racism; I did not either, until college.

    But though my town had a black population, the Chicano population was much larger, about half of the total of my town.  Yet the subordination of Chicanos was almost complete at that time (it began to change in the late 1960s and 1970s).  I grew up breathing in anti-Chicano racism as normally as I breathed in air.

    How much were you affected by having a truly dumb white man in the office?

    Not at all, on the basis of whiteness.  I completely loathed Nixon, Reagan, both Bushes.  But I never felt they were so reprehensible just because they were white.  I hated what they and their policies did to people of color here and abroad - and also to white people.  

    I feel more cringy when somebody queer in public office does something stupid - like the mayor of Portland, OR recently.  I don't feel he represents all gay men, but I know how it's going to be used, not only by the homophobes, but by everyone who subliminally has internalized the criminal archetype of queers as sexual predators.

    Did you feel affected as a white person by the sheer ineptitude of Bush?  Did you feel responsible? As a white person?

    I didn't feel personally responsible for Bush's evil idiocy, but I did (and do) feel responsible for working as a white person to work over time to dismantle white supremacy.  

    In general, minorities have this real issue of hearing about something bad happening and praying a black man is not the culprit.  Do white folk go through the same thing?

    I don't feel this on the basis of an awful person being white.  My prayers are about overcoming the countless expressions of racism by white people.  In general, while I don't feel guilty about being white, I feel somehow responsible for doing my measure to overturn white supremacy.

    I do often pray that someone who did something horrible isn't queer.  Take Jeffrey Dahmer - actually, he was both queer and white and tortured and killed predominantly younger queers of color.  Or John Wayne Gacey.  I know every time stuff like that happens, it's another sledgehammer flung at the collective queer head.

    Oh!  It's on a different scale than serial murder - but I do want to say I was praying constantly during the Prop 8 discussions, in political circles elsewhere, as on DKos, that yet another white person wouldn't weigh in with one of those horrible accusations against people of color, especially black people.  Ugh.

    -------

    Thank you for asking these questions.  I will continue to reflect upon them.  

    "Never say you know the last word about any human heart." - Henry James

    by RadioGirl on Fri Jan 23, 2009 at 08:36:49 AM PST

  •  Great Diary (6+ / 0-)

    i am still in the digesting mode and don't know what it means when Black is in. Americans are fickle, this week you are in, next week you are out, so the in out concept doesn't work for me.

    Glad we are here and hope that in my lifetime I will see another black president and it won't be a one-off.

    When the devil shows up with a truckload of promises it's harder than you think to walk away.

    by kiki236 on Fri Jan 23, 2009 at 08:54:43 AM PST

  •  Your closing line... (8+ / 0-)

    ...always catches me by surprise, the writing is so good and compelling. I always feel like I've been dropped with a thud; I never want to stop reading; ouch!

    Yet?  I LOVE it every time.  Thanks.

  •  questions (8+ / 0-)

    First off, did you see Colbert the other night?  He had Tim Meadows on, hawking t-shirts that said "Yes, I did think I'd see this happen in my lifetime".  "White people ask us this all the time, so it's a real time-saver!"

    The news networks really only make sense if you think of them as the most sheltered, uneducated people in America.  They can only ask the most basic, obvious questions, and see things in the absolute simplest terms.  CNN is kind of like "Elmo's World" for grownups.

    Now:

    White people, did you ever think you would live to see this day? Absolutely.  I'm 33, so I like to think I'll live long enough to see a few black presidents.  I remember when I was a kid, and Jesse Jackson was running, understanding even then that he was running to lay the groundwork for the next guy.  Naively, I didn't think it'd take so long for the next guy to come along.  I figured there'd be a few more 2nd or 3rd place finishes before we got to this day, not a sea of white faces for 25 years, then the guy who finally does it.

    What does it mean to a white person to finally have elected a black man to the Presidency? Like Michelle Obama said, I'm proud of my country for the first time.  Really.  I mean, I'm proud of stuff that happened before I was born - WWII, man on the moon, all that stuff.  But this is the first time in my lifetime I feel like we've taken a big step towards realizing this country's ideals.

    What would your grandfather think of the events of January 20th?  What was your racial upbringing?  One grandfather's pretty racist, which the rest of the family is embarrassed by, so I don't really want to know what he thinks, but I doubt it's anything good.  The other grandfather's been dead for 20 years, but as an immigrant who had to hide his Jewishness when he came to this country, I like to think he'd appreciate an immigrant's son overcoming prejudice to get into the White House.

    How much were you affected by having a truly dumb white man in the office? I think everybody had to suffer a lot of the same things - money trouble, friends and family sent to war.  But there was also a tremendous shame.  My wife's Irish, and it could be tough going over there and trying to explain to her friends how that guy got elected.  Twice.

    Did you feel affected as a white person by the sheer ineptitude of Bush?  Did you feel responsible? As a white person? Kind of.  Maybe not personally, but white people as a group, certainly.  What percentage of the black vote did Gore get?  95%?  98%?  And did one white Congressman join Maxine Waters and the CBC in protesting the stolen election?  For along time after that election, I kind of felt like white people shouldn't be allowed to vote, at least for a few cycles.  We screwed up big.

    In general, minorities have this real issue of hearing about something bad happening and praying a black man is not the culprit.  Do white folk go through the same thing?  Not really.  Which is unfair, and I hope a lot of us realize that.  The only analogous thing is maybe a particular white subculture or region - like Bush giving Texans a bad name.  But even that's not really the same thing at all.

  •  Responsibility (7+ / 0-)

    To answer one of your questions, as a 54 yr old white person I do feel responsible for the wrongness of the policies that lead to inequalities and abuse. Also as an American I am/have been ashamed of what Republicans have done. I feel white people have been selfish and cruel, encouraged by leaders including Nixon, Reagan ("welfare queen"....) not only with regards to black Americans but also immigrants and descendants of immigrants. This makes me angry, angry, angry.

    My upbringing--all great-grandparents German or English immigrants and FDR supporters (obviously white); all grandparents Republicans. My parents generation liberal Democrats, so I was raised right. I have an aunt with a mixed race family and so cousins of different races--growing up I thought of this as normal. Every time I hear something about "young black male" I think about my cousin's kid and wonder how he's doing.

    I guess I was in 8th grade in 1968. When Dr. King was killed my father put us three kids in the car on Sunday morning and drove us to a black Methodist church we'd never visited. We attended the service standing on the front lawn listening via loudspeakers because the church was filled to capacity. Afterwards we got at the end of the line to wait and my Dad made sure each of us shook hands with the minister. This event has lots of different meanings for me but one of them is we must stand up and take responsibility.

    As an educator, I feel white people are in need of a profoundly better education about reality. I am so, so, so, so, so proud of President Barack Obama! We must work hard to help him.

    Oops! I'm gonna need a whole new sig!

    by sillia on Fri Jan 23, 2009 at 09:10:06 AM PST

    •  Responsibility (7+ / 0-)

      I used to always roll my eyes at collective guilt. But after Obama won and all the Black/Gay fighting started over the Prop 8 in Cali, I stopped to personally thank a gay couple I walk my dog pass everyday, that has an "Obama 08" sticker on their car. I thought that these little personal moments are what help to lower temperatures and fight racism.

      -1.63/ -1.49 "Speaking truth to power"

      by dopper0189 on Fri Jan 23, 2009 at 09:46:50 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  not about guilt (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        paul2port, Robinswing

        This may be just semantics, but I don't think "guilt" is the issue. I am not guilty of anything, nor are my relatives, nor is collectively any particular group. If we consider white people 'guilty' guess that would be my definition of racism.

        However, we DO have a responsibility, as members of the dominant group, to "do right" as Rev. Lowry said, or to help correct the mistakes and attitudes that we are in a unique position to effect. We all as Americans have a responsibility for each other.

        Good example is torture. I have a responsibility as a citizen to speak out and do everything that I lawfully can against this policy--I feel a terrible anger and shame about what has been done in my name. But I do not feel guilty about it, nor do I think Americans are collectively guilty of it. I think that certain individuals must be prosecuted for crimes and for perverting our values, breaking our laws, and in the future we must be more vigilant. Same with racial injustice.

        I think that Dr. King did not fall back on any idea of collective guilt, which is a passive emotion anyway. I think he was more about "Where do we go from here?" I think your approach in reaching out to the gay couple you met is an example of how we go from here, if we multiply it a few hundred thousand times!

        Oops! I'm gonna need a whole new sig!

        by sillia on Fri Jan 23, 2009 at 12:12:52 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Too late again, damn! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Robinswing, Deoliver47

    BK just keeps getting better and better.

    Dopper, Sephius and Robinswing this week's edition is outstanding.

    I did see Obama in Baltimore and I hope to blog about it later. However, I will say this: the women in my section of the crowd were black church ladies. They were full of hope and joy. When the Morgan State University Choir sang they knew every word to the hymns and sang with abandon. At one point the two ladies behind me placed a hand on my shoulder, the other hand in the air and testified. Praise Jesus! Communion. Amen.

    Not once did I ask if anyone thought they would see the day. Everywhere I went, in line, in the square, on the Metro after the speech black people were asking each other "Did you ever think you would see the day?" then sharing their experiences. Sorry Robinswing, it was the question of the day.

    On Sunday as hundreds of thousands of people gathered in the Washington Mall for the concert I saw the happiest, best dressed, the friendliest, most polite, most respectful mass gathering of Americans I have ever seen. (I'm over 50 and lived in the USA for several years. I have relatives in the States and have visited many times for many occasions.) It was a peak experience for everyone present.

    Speaking as a Canadian, not for anyone else but myself.

    Yes I thought the day would come, but not so soon. My years in Hawaii gave me hope. Obama's Hawaiian upbringing should not be underestimated in understanding this wonderful man. (Even Michelle says so.)

    What does it mean? I think American has made an enormous step forward. The people are ahead of the pundits and the establishment. Young people especially have embraced a more inclusive view of their world. It is happing in other parts of the world as well. London and Paris have as much racial and ethnic and racial diversity as does NYC.  The Joshua generation is a reference to the Jews under Moses wandering but never reaching the promised land. Congratulations America and don't underestimate the importance of your glittering electoral achievement.

    I didn't know my grandfathers. They died before I was born. One of my grandmothers was from Alton Illinois. She was a liberal and it is my understanding that Alton was an abolitionist town. She had childhood memories of neighbors and uncles who had fought for the North in the Civil War. I think she would be amazed, maybe astounded to the point of disbelief at Obama's success. My other grandmother was a conservative with deep roots in Canada. On issues of language and religion (our dividing lines in Canada were French/English and Catholic/Protestant) I knew her to be fair-minded and respectful of those who were different in any respect. She lived in the Caribbean for many years and enjoyed the "Black-English" culture of Barbados. (More British than the British, Dopper?)  I think Obama's race wouldn't be as much an issue to her as his "liberal" policies. I remember my grandmothers at our house marveling at how their world had changed as they watched Neil Armstrong step on to the surface of the moon.

    GWB? Truly embarrassing to humanity. Hell, no his patrician upbringing, slacker fratboy mentality and political policies are no reflection on me. (But then again I"m from a different country)

    Cultural identification with culprits: Generally no. Although I do occasionally think someone is embarrassing because they belong to a group I  identify with. "White" isn't the way I think of myself, so much as Irish, or Canadian, or Catholic, or Torontonian etc. I shudder when one of my profession is in the newspaper for misconduct. Once I was horrified find out a person with the same name had been arrested in an enormous cocaine bust. People at work had the newspaper's front page story on their desks, waiting to see if it was me who had been arrested. There's not much murder in Toronto compared to similarly sized American cities. I do cringe and hope the latest shooting was not yet another black on black crime. There's a disproportionate amount of violent crime in the black community here, some of it clearly inspired by a romanticized notion of the American gangsta life.

    Obama's already on record about better behavior among black youth and specifically how the young black male is going to be held more accountable. He is setting a new standard that I think will influence the neighborhood, the marginalized, the disadvantaged of every description.

    Apparently the grassroots movement Obama started with his campaign will remain a passion and force for good in the country. For a man who is thoughtful about image and message he chose as his very first official act the proclamation of a "National Day of Renewal and Reconciliation with a call for citizens to do works of public service.

    With Obama I think there's more than everyone loving a winner. He's more like the average person in so very many respects and yet he's the very best of us, what we aspire to be if only we could.

    To quote the NY Times article.

    The family that produced Barack and Michelle Obama is black and white and Asian, Christian, Muslim and Jewish. They speak English; Indonesian; French; Cantonese; German; Hebrew; African languages including Swahili, Luo and Igbo; and even a few phrases of Gullah, the Creole dialect of the South Carolina Lowcountry. Very few are wealthy, and some — like Sarah Obama, the stepgrandmother who only recently got electricity and running water in her metal-roofed shack — are quite poor.

    He belongs to all of us and even the hardest heart seems to have softened. We seem to be more open to the African in us all, for we are all, in fact descended from an ancient African mother.

    When the church ladies put their hands on my shoulders they invited and reminded me that the entire family of humanity should share in the celebratory feast. But before the feast forgiveness, reconciliation. Thank you church ladies. Amen.

  •  Never too late :) (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Robinswing

    I actually got here today sad that I missed being able to read and rec yesterday.

    But though late - I am elated as always to read the wonderful Black Kos round-up and the commentary too.

    "If you're in a coalition and you're comfortable, you know it's not a broad enough coalition" Bernice Johnson Reagon

    by Denise Oliver Velez on Sat Jan 24, 2009 at 03:01:32 AM PST

  •  I had to runteldat on the day (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sephius1, crazyshirley2100

    TV was interviewing some black woman from the Bahamas
    who had come with her family to witness the inauguration and the basic question was why they felt the need given that the Bahamas is part of the British commonwealth and not America.  She said (predictably) that it was historic and exciting and empowering to everyone from the African diaspora at large, BUT THEN, she also felt the need to go on to say that Obama's empowerment was due in part to "divine providence".  At this, one of my secular white friends rolled her eyes and said, "Oh, no, not divine providence again -- we see where that got us last time", as though she were comparing this invocation of Christianity DIRECTLY to the conservative fundamentalist brand.  I then had to explain to her that liberation theology was more OUR brand and that African-Americans wouldn't be Americans at all if we had not been able to expropriate EXODUS (the story of how God liberated the Jews from enslavement by the Egyptians) from the MASTERS' religion to our own story.  The fact that we were able to share the religion was crucial to our being one country.  Not to mention, precisely as the story says here, crucial to our being able to endure and to have faith that this day would come.

    I think she sort of belatedly got it, but it is hard work teaching this lesson to some people on OUR side who think (because of Falwell et al) that religion is automatically the enemy.

    The road to hell has not YET been paved with Republicans, but it SHOULD be -- Corrected BumperSticker

    by ge0rge on Sun Jan 25, 2009 at 07:48:22 PM PST

  •  Diaries of note (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    crazyshirley2100

    There is yet another case of a black person trying to address a black  issue on dKos and getting HRed to death for it.  I tried to defend him and lost TU as a result.  It involves the case of a black professor at a predominantly white midwestern campus who was wrongly disciplined for allgedly canceling a class so that people could watch the inauguration; the allegation came from a white student.
    If anybody black who is reading this has TU then some
    intervention here is most definitely called for.
    The primarily injured parties (besides myself) were
    the author of the comment linked above (you may still be able to find him in the hiddens if you have TU)
    and this one.

    The road to hell has not YET been paved with Republicans, but it SHOULD be -- Corrected BumperSticker

    by ge0rge on Sun Jan 25, 2009 at 07:58:17 PM PST

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