I Have A Dream
Friday, August 29, 2008
8/28/08- YES WE CAN
On the 45th anniversary of Dr. King's “I Have Dream” speech, Barack Obama accepts the Democratic Nomination. Providence? Chance? Coincidence? Certainly historical, possibly a miracle that we have seen a person of color elected as a major party nominee in the United States of America. What difference does it make? It seems it should be commonplace, right? He is as American as the next citizen, right? Sounds good, but we can not deny how much, how long it has taken and is taking our nation to overcome it's mortal error and ultimate sin-racism.
Yet as I consider Obama's heritage- son of a single white American mother raised by her and white American grandparents in Hawaii and Indonesia, I am both tickled by the fact that at the end of the day he probably self-identifies-although perhaps only because the census bureau forces him to-as black man, an African American, while NOTHING about him (or anyone else) is necessarily black or African (or relevant to anyone except maybe his physician) except the skin of the African father who sired him, but who was not even in his life past age two. At the same time I am reminded of and mesmerized by how diverse we-the "black" diaspora- are and how diverse we Americans are and ultimately how diverse we are simply as a human race.
Now alongside Obama's background as I reflect on my own heritage as the progeny of one side of my blood line that was enslaved in this nation and other side which was never enslaved, I wonder what about "race" unites Obama and me? I can't help but think very little except that both of us ultimately have roots somewhere in Africa-his only one generation removed, mine so many centuries removed, no one knows where we are originally from. And except for genetics somewhere along the way, I wonder how is it that both Obama and I are considered "black," "African"- American? I've never even been to Africa! At least Obama has... But I guess my point is that NOTHING in reality about race unites us-Obama and me or anyone else. Only our human experience our American experience do. Just as in reality all these years nothing has separated any race from another except hatred spawned by fear, lack of knowledge and lack of understanding of that which LOOKS different, but really isn’t that different than SELF.
It is both a shame and sorrow that for so long our society has not been able to look past skin color, gender, religion and ability, when we all share a come experience- the human experience. Yet it is such a joy and triumph, truly a type of redemption that on the heels of celebrating something as magnificent as the Olympics which captures the spirit of the human race without regard to nationality, race, gender or creed, that we as a supposedly leading society have finally stepped out of our SELVES for this one moment in time to change history forever as Dr. King prophesied more than four decades ago today. And as history is made, I can't help but think that Dr. King is looking down on us all smiling that we no longer have to sing, "We shall overcome;" rather we can begin to chant "We ARE overcoming."
YES WE ARE
On the heels of yesterday's historic moment "not to be out done," McCain and the GOP have announced ALASKAN (I sometimes forget that is still apart of the US) running mate Sara Palin. Wow! A female VP nominee! Somebody pinch me. What does all of this mean? Something? Nothing? Anything all at once?
I will tell you what it means: It means that if our nation can come from a history where once upon a time black people weren't even considered human, much less citizen's with a right to vote, and when women also were denied voting privileges to a day like today when a black man can viably campaign for presidency simultaneously while a woman runs for VP... if our nation can overcome all the force of inertia, overcome its past, move forward into a new day, being forever changed by it all, then we TOO at SP can move the mountains in our lives be those mountains pounds, laziness, poor habits/ lifestyle choices, depression, unwieldy emotions or any other. So at the end of the day I tell ya keep smiling, keep trekking: there IS hope! For you, for me, for the American Dream!
How do you move the course of a stream? One stone, one rock, one pebble, one moment at a time. Every moment won’t be a milestone, but it will be the moments in between stacked together that lead to the monumental moments, times and places in life. Our nation didn’t get to this place over night, nor will we arrive to our rightful places in life. But moment by moment we will arrive.
Congratulations UNITED States of America.