January 20, 2009

"....proud to be an American..."

"I, too, sing America.

I am the darker brother.
They send me to eat in the kitchen
When company comes,
But I laugh,
And eat well,
And grow strong.

I'll be at the table
When company comes.
Nobody'll dare
Say to me,
"Eat in the kitchen,"

They'll see how beautiful I am
And be ashamed--

I, too, am America."
- Langston Hughes
I know I've been pretty quiet since the election back in November. A lot has
happened since then - personally, professionally, artistically, romantically.

In many ways, I feel like anything I could write now would really pale in comparison
to the reality of the moment.

But I would like to say a few things:

  • I love that Michelle's mother is moving into the White House, because it is representative of the reality for many Black families here in America. My grandmother lived in my parents' house since before I was born, and there's something to be said for having another adult who is not working a full-time job there to help raise the children. And, let's be blunt, it's much more likely for Blacks to BE the nanny instead of HAVING a nanny. But, even more importantly, having a blood relative to help with your babies is probably always better. So I love that America is going to have a "First Nana".
  • I went to the Martin Luther King Day parade here in Los Angeles yesterday, and I love the weird trick of fate that we get to celebrate MLK the day before we inaugurate our first Black president. There were Obama t-shirts & signs & bootleg merchandise EVERYWHERE. But what's even more cool is how crazy diverse the MLK Day Parade itself was - there was a huge Korean contingent; Brazilian carnival-style dancers & floats, even freakin' Hari Krishnas. :-) A reminder that King's dream wasn't just about Black people. It was, and continues to be, about everybody.
  • Needless to say, I can understand how some on the left are highly pissed off about the whole Rick Warren thing. But, as I think those who oppose things like Prop 8 here in California are beginning to learn, this is a democracy, and the only way to win a majority for your beliefs is to change hearts and minds. And that means you have to talk to people who may believe in things that you hate, and they have to actually be in the room in order to talk to them. I stopped listening to some folks that I like because they believe something different than me, and, frankly, that's a sign of my own weakness. And ours. So, let's be real about this. Rick Warren is a far cry from Jerry Falwell or Pat Robertson, and he probably represents a very large cross-section of the church-going populace of this country. Even if you're a big believer in separation of church and state, even if you're an atheist or an agnostic, you still have to share the country with the religious people. You can't get rid of them just like they can't get rid of you, no matter how much either of you would like. That, my friends, is what democracy is all about. Just like talking to Iran is not appeasement, giving an olive branch to the Christian middle is not an endorsement. Have faith that the President may just know what he's doing.
  • Don't you just love that last sentence? Above all else, I love the return of a presumption of competence to the Federal government.
  • The last time I was on the national mall was 1995 for the Million Man March. After watching the festivities of the day, I'm suddenly itching to go back and go on all the tours. If I may paraphrase our new First Lady, this may not be the first time I've been proud of my country, but today is definitely the day that I've felt MOST proud to call myself an American.
OK. Now, let's get to work.
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