Thursday, March 20, 2008

rafael pérez-torres for president

I do not believe that Barack Obama is my new bicycle. I believe he's a politician who will sell out as much and as little as Hillary has, given time. But I do think he's bringing something new to the national dialogue. In this case, it's a highly refreshing take on race: http://my.barackobama.com/page/content/hisownwords. (Since I've been traveling lately, I'm out of the media loop, so my apologies if this is sooo a week and a half ago. For some reason, the remote in my hotel seems to bypass CNN and land on The Real Housewives of New York City every night.)

Anyway, the speech is worth a read or a listen. Obama's refusal to disown anyone reminds me of my college Chicano lit professor's mantra that "We are all the oppressor, we are all the oppressed." (And yes, that's more literal when you're talking about mestizo lineage, but I think almost everyone has had a taste of both roles over the course of their lives.*) Most importantly, I appreciate that Obama refuses to let race be the swiftboat scandal of 2008--which would both exaggerate and belittle the role of race in America--and instead uses the occasion of other people's stupid comments as an opportunity to explain the true and complex components of race: history, class, fear, opportunism.

I think many politicians would back away from the issue as quickly as possible with a simplistic, angry let's-kill-all-the-racists speech or a simplistic, feel-good let's-all-get-along speech. Obama took on a challenge, and asks us to do the same. I just hope we're up for it.

*With the possible exception of the real housewives of New York City. There's a good chance they are 100 percent oppressor.

10 comments:

Tracy Lynn said...

*snicker* 100 % oppressor. That's funny, dude.

Cheryl said...

Have you seen these ladies? They give their daughters condos and think they're instilling a work ethic by asking them to keep them clean.

Incidentally, if anyone out there would like to give me a condo, I promise I will keep it clean.

Laura and the family said...

Why don't you write a begging letter to Omaha because you mentioned he added you as a friend of his???? (winks)

Cheryl said...

I actually did write him a letter about health care a few months ago, and now he emails me constantly. I've gotta say, he seems a little needy. :-)

Laura and the family said...

For your vote ??? or spreading the words to vote for him???

thelastnoel said...

You know, with all my own hacking about being a minority, I know full well that I am one of the most priveleged people in the world. Gotta own it.

Don Cummings said...

I think Obama did a brilliant job speaking about this. I am with you. I have NO idea what can be done, though. Suddenly, people will all come together? We'll talk and everything's going to be fine? How? When I speak with my rightfully so pissed-off African-American friends I have no reponse except, "You're right. What happened to your people was completely wacked. Anything I say on the subject would sound so stupid."
And that seems to do nothing.

Action

Everyone needs FULL OPPORTUNITY. How on earth are we going to do that? Truly! I need to know! I'll do it, but I need to know what to DO!

Cheryl said...

N: I think that's the weird thing about being a minority in America--being oppressed and privileged at the same time. But hey, it leaves lots to write about, right?

D: This is where I get all pragmatic and Hillary-esque: You have to tackle big, historical issues one little policy at a time. Universal health care would be a great place to start. (Fine, so it's not exactly "little," but it's specific, and it does have something to do with race.)

Don Cummings said...

I'm all pragmatic and Hillary-esque, too. And I agree...health care could at least level, well, health.
Little dogged movements, every day.

Ms. Q said...

New Yorker Talk of the Town dealt with Obama's speech well - or has CC already filled you in? She told us last week she reads the NYer cover to cover each week and requires more material....