Thursday, August 28, 2008

Black Men On My Mind

I've been driving through the South and listening to the audiobook I picked up at the library, Black Boy by Richard Wright. It's really good so far, emotional, vivid, making me cringe and cry and scream in frustration as I'm driving. The section I'm listening to is in the 1910's and Richard is growing up and learning about race relations, the KKK, the dangers of standing up for himself to whites. There is a pervasive attitude of "keep your head down" that frustrates, and scares, and confuses him as a boy. And it seems hopeless that anything will ever change.

Then, I missed my exit in Atlanta and to get back to I-85, I had to drive right through Sweet Auburn and the Martin Luther King, Jr, Center and National Monument. No time to stop today, but I thought back to last summer when I spent a day looking at the exhibits and wandering the street King grew up on. It was so moving to be there and learn more about this life and the struggle for Civil Rights. Even more emotional for me, was how many people were there. People of all colors, all ages, single people wandering slowly, families explaining things to the kids, and family reunions with matching t-shirts. I was glad to end up there by chance today, on the 45th Anniversary of his "I Have a Dream Speech." Go back and watch it, it's so amazing. To have so much hope and determination in the face of such adversity.

And tonight Barack Obama will accept the Democratic Party's nomination for President. I have to admit, was getting a little cynical about his campaign. All the happy music and pageantry at the convention is so predictable. I was scoffing at the melodramatic headlines on CNN, "Obama Makes History!" The softball questions they were throwing at conventioneers about what today means to them. But damn, this is huge. This IS historic. And the best part is that Obama is totally worth all the praise and attention and celebration. I can't wait for him to be president and make good things happen, inspire us to serve, and help the rest of the world see how good our country can be.

Sure, the campaign still has to wage on, there will be compromises and disappointments. Yes, there is still a LOT of work to do to improve racial and ethnic relations all over the world, but I don't want to think about that today. I just want to let Richard and Martin and Barak spin around in my brain and feel hopeful for a little while. I want to recognize that this country has taken a huge step toward realizing the ideals our democracy is based on. And now we have even more reason to believe that we can make it all the way.


Anonymous said...

word. you should talk to brit about her dream last night where a black man covered one of your songs. she heard it on her dream radio. strange...

Anonymous said...

There's so much injustice in the world that you just have to try to live with sometimes, or you'll go crazy, which makes it an amazing thing when you suddenly realize there's a reason to hope again. Barack will make a difference, no matter what happens in November... he already has. :)