Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Becoming America, Again.

From President Obama's Congressional Address:
"We are a nation that has seen promise amid peril, and claimed opportunity from ordeal. Now we must be that nation again."

This is a president who inspires. But, he also gave it to us straight, talked to us like adults and told us what a crumbling, bumbling mess we are in.

The type of thinking that led to the rich running away with the golden spoon and the rest of us grasping for the "no money down" brass ring, brought us here. America became an ethicless, greedy bunch of you-know-whats and so many of us fell for it or allowed it to happen.

Now, we've got to fix it and it begins with a change in that GOPish type of thinking that separates the rich from the rest. This president knows you can't eliminate the middle and ignore the bottom and still have a strong union. We are all connected and all valuable and we must all invest in each other doing well.

"As we stand at this crossroads of history, the eyes of all people in all nations are once again upon us, watching to see what we do with this moment, waiting for us to lead.

Those of us gathered here tonight have been called to govern in extraordinary times. It is a tremendous burden, but also a great privilege, one that has been entrusted to few generations of Americans, for in our hands lies the ability to shape our world, for good or for ill.

I know that it's easy to lose sight of this truth, to become cynical and doubtful, consumed with the petty and the trivial.

But in my life, I have also learned that hope is found in unlikely places, that inspiration often comes not from those with the most power or celebrity, but from the dreams and aspirations of ordinary Americans who are anything but ordinary."

Ain't that the truth.

How lucky are we to live now in this hard and challenging time? President Obama reminded us that it's in times like these that America is at her best. History shows, in times like these we seem to shine and progress and be our most innovative, inventive and eventually most prosperous. Already I've noticed people coming up with bold ideas they never would have thought of if it weren't for this crisis. Americans putting on their thinking caps again. I see great strides ahead in medicine, ecology, and energy. I just know we will tire of being inconvenienced as crumbling schools, roads and bridges are repaired.
I wonder what will this great period in American history be called?

The Bob the Builder period.

Can we fix it?
Yes We Can!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

This Could Happen to Me

Monica and I have living wills and legal this and legal that and folks think we're covered. That's all you need. You don't need what I have. Well you are wrong. We do.
This terrifies me.

We can trot out all the legal papers and certificates of unions we want (and how would you like to have to go get all this stuff in a time of crisis) and some people only see that we are gay and have no equal rights as married people.
Such imhumanity to other people boggles my mind.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Happy Presidents Day

Since I am in the land of Lincoln, Presidents Day around here is focused more on Abe, especially on the 200th anniversary of his birth this year. I'm a history buff and the Civil War period is a special interest. I've been learning a lot more about that tall Illinoisan lately and it is fascinating.
In this age of knowledge and change, I think it's a good thing to dispel myths and untruths and teach the kids about the whole man and we adults may need to relearn some old lessons.
Abe Lincoln had always been held up as a saviour to the Black race. In school, I was taught Lincoln was a moralist who went against the South's slavers to free my people.
However, a closer more honest study shows the noble statesman we learned about in school to be a flawed man with many of the attitudes consistent with his times. Many claim Lincoln to be racist and a white supremest. This is debatable. But, I know he was no abolitionist. I believe that he freed the slaves to keep the Union together. That he was not for equal rights and wanted the freed slaves deported to Liberia or anywhere.

I also know there is evidence that he thought slavery to be morally wrong. And, I'm sure he knew that white America could not handle free and equal Blacks. I know that being a proponent of equal civil rights, couldn't get elected dog catcher. Lincoln being a master politician, knew that too.

Abe Lincoln grew and changed tremendously during his presidency. The Civil War, the bloodiest war in our nation's history, the fear of splitting the Union, and suffering and conflicts of slavery caused him to change.

I often wonder, if Lincoln had lived, how America would be different. He had begun to speak of equal rights. His speech suggesting equal voting rights may have been a catalyst to his assassination shortly after.

For me, the makings of a great leader is one who can learn and grow and do the right thing at crucial times. I am still learning about this American and I appreciate knowing him as a real person with conflicts rather than an icon on a pedestal.

How does the good, the bad and the ugly about Lincoln effect your feelings toward the 16th president and his historical legacy?

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Here on the Rock...

I kept getting calls from Monica stuck in her car on Friday evening "turn on the TV and find out what the heck is going on! The traffic is shut down and there's all these helicopters...!!
The president and his family came home for the weekend. He said they will come to Chicago as often as they can to visit. That's cool. I'm sure providing security for this president presents some new and challenging problems for the Secret Service. It certainly provides some excitement and challenges for his hood. In addition to all the barricades and huge police presence, they shut down the Drive while the helicopters touched down in the park and the motorcade whooshed the first family home.
Lake Shore Drive being shut down is a pain, yall.

I'm sure the Obama girls will have fun visiting the lifelong friends they had to leave when they moved to Washington, and Michelle can see her family.
The media has been camped out since Friday morning. In addition to when Obama will head out to play some basketball, the big thing was where the president would take his wife for Valentine's Day? A local Obama favorite like Dixie Kitchen or a fancier downtown fave such as Spiaggia or Topolobampo? There were folks camped out at these places hoping to glimpse the prez and his wife on their Saturday night date.

The Obama's selected Table Fifty-Two, an upscale Gold Coast establishment on Elm Street. The dining room embraces a cottage chic decor with a stone bar, hickory flooring and a pressed copper ceiling.
The menu features decadent southern fare such as pan-seared catfish, low-country shrimp with stone-ground grits and buttermilk fried chicken. Red velvet cake was the dessert special Saturday evening. Mmmmm mmmmm that's comfort food and a comfy setting for a long relaxing, romantic dinner.
Reports are that the Obama's managed to give the press the slip for bout 45 minutes when they took off for their date. Good for them.
Welcome Home.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Black History 28 for Change

Talk radio station WVON asked listeners to select the 28 Blacks who changed America and the 28 Blacks who are changing America.

The results are interesting. I am surprised by some and delighted at others. The order is also interesting. What do you think? Who would you add or subtract from this list. Would you change the order? How many do you actually know of?

28 Blacks Who Changed America
1. The Black Worker
2. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
3. Paul Robeson
4. Gwendolyn Brooks
5. Rosa Parks
6. Thurgood Marshall
7. John H. Johnson
8. Robert Abbott
9. Jack Johnson
10. W.E.B. DuBois
11. Mary McLeod Bethune
12. Elijah Muhammad
13. Malcom X
14. Madam C.J. Walker.
15. Ida B. Wells-Barnett
16. Frederick Douglass
17. Jackie Robinson
18. Carter G. Woodson
19. Adam Clayton Powell, Jr
20. Percy Julian
21. Edward "Duke" Ellington
22. Daniel Hale Williams
23. Harriett Tubman
24. Sojourner Truth
25. Jean Baptist-Pointe Du Sable
26. Richard Allen
27. Joe Louis
28. The Black Soldier

I gotta say Gwendolyn Brooks hitting #4 thrills me to pieces. She is a literary and personal hero of mine. And the founder of my city, Jean Baptist-Pointe DuSable, should be higher on that list. More on these two Chicagoans later.

Now, what about this next list?

The 28 Blacks Who Are Changing America
1. President Barack Obama
2. Oprah Winfrey
3. Minister Louis Farrakhan
4. Tyler Perry
5. Spike Lee
6. Rev. Al Sharpton
7. Dr. Cornel West
8. Bill Cosby
9. Will Smith
10. Russell Simmons
11. Tavis Smiley
12. Denzel Washington
13. Tom Joyner
14. Serena & Venus Williams
15. Dr. Maya Angelou
16. Dr. Michael Eric Dyson
17. Ervin "Magic" Johnson
18. Rev. Jesse L. Jackson
19. Bishop T.D. Jakes
20. Donna Brazille
21. Quincy Jones
22. Cathy Hughes
23. Tiger Woods
24. Earl Graves
25. Queen Latifah
26. Roland S. Martin
27. Morgan Freeman
28. John Singleton

I was surprised that Rev. Jackson's name was so far down on the list. I assume that is not a measure of his contributions but of his recent verbal screw ups. Or should he be on the first list?
What? No Condileeza Rice or Colin Powell?
For this list, WVON wanted selections that have impact beyond their significance to Black America and speaks to the indelible imprint they will have on the United States of America.
Do Rice and Powell belong there too?

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

A National Treasure

My friend Alexandra has a post up about Jennifer Hudson singing the national Anthem at the Superbowl last Sunday. As Alex said, if you haven't heard it, take a minute to do so. Alex puts into words what's happening as Jennifer sings far better than I ever could.

The national anthem always gives me a rush. But, for me Jennifer Hudson reached deep down and made it go far past patriotism. She made it personal. She sang it like I feel it.

Sunday as Jennifer stood center field, I was thinking of what's happened in America and what's happened to this young woman this year. Millions of people were thinking of those things, too. Jennifer stopped the Superbowl frenzy for a couple minutes and made us put down the beer and chips, to listen and feel.