Friday, August 29, 2008

Obama: The Word on the Street

In the last few weeks I have seen at least half a dozen black folks wearing Obama t-shirts with his face on them. Today at the barbershop the talk was a street level analysis of McCain's desperation choice for running mate Governor Palin (R-AK). Outside of the bagel shop, a few moments later, two people were standing waiting for the street light to change and discussing Obama's acceptance speech from last night.

I am a radical individual. Most of my friends have a great radical analysis. All of us know that Obama, as an institutional candidate, has little chance of truly altering the fundamental fabric of U.S. society but ANY organizer that has any clue as to how social movements move forward must know and realize that right now there is a ground swell of massive proportions the likes of which have not been seen since the Civil Rights and Power to the People movements of the 60s and 70s. I may be only 30 (31 on Sunday), but I have now been politically tuned in and cognizant of five presidential races. No race in my lifetime has ever had the weight, importance, and on the street impact of the race between Obama and McCain.

I am not ashamed to say that last night, when Obama said the words, " I accept the nomination for the President of the United States," I had tears in my eyes. I will repeat what I wrote before, the fact that it was a person that looks like me, even though I know that fundamentally at an early point our politics depart radically from one another's, is for me, the great-great grandchild of slaves, a fundamental affirmation that yes, indeed, we can.

Last night I stared history in the face, and the face looked like mine. Now the challenge is to capture the spirit on the street and channel it into the kind of work that must happen to fundamentally address the systems of oppression that keep our people poor, beaten, hurting, and dying. This is another step that was begun in a march that started the day that Columbus first put his foot down in America, when the first indigenous person fought back and killed the first colonizer, our struggle continues. It is for us to recognize the power of this moment and its limitations, but to dismiss this moment, particularly by radical folks, is not only a mistake but fails to honor the hope that I have seen in the faces of those that, for most of my life, have had little to hope for.

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