Despite the disappointment of not getting into the Pepsi Center or Mile High Stadium for the events, just being here in Denver for this Democratic National Convention has been an amazing experience. When push came to shove, there was no way I was not going to be here. I’ve recently written about my racial upbringing and each and every minute of this DNC has made me more and more aware (as if it were possible) of the monumental nature of what’s happening. We the People, who revolted to form a more perfect (white) union have, after 388 years of English settlement, finally begun to stick our heads out and have a look around at the world.
We’ve just nominated a black man for the the presidency of the United States and that’s simply amazing. As recent as 6 months ago you could hardly get anyone to admit the possibility and 2 years ago it would have been dismissed out of hand. And now? In 68 days we can elect Barack Obama president of the United States and send a message near and far, to every country on earth that the United States is at least trying to achieve the goals we proclaimed after the revolution and that we are a place where a person’s destiny is not limited by the color of their skin.
Say it loud, we’re ALL black and we’re proud! We’re ALL Latino and we’re proud! We’re ALL Native and we’re proud! We’re ALL white and we’re proud! We’re ALL Christian and we’re proud! We’re ALL Jewish and we’re proud! We’re ALL Muslim and we’re proud! We’re ALL athiest and we’re proud! We’re ALL men and we’re proud! We’re ALL women and we’re proud! We’re ALL Americans and dammit, if we elect Brack Obama, we can ALL be proud!
It’s been some time since Barack Obama was declared the presumptive nominee of the Democratic Party and I meant to write something then, but well, you know. I got busy and stuff. I meant to write about how proud I was, as a mixed-race, politically active man in a heretofore white political world. I wanted to write about what a party my mother Joanne Grant would have thrown at our house and how, as a fiercely proud mixed-race woman she would have whooped and hollered. (I think she would have supported John Edwards in the beginning because he ran to the left of Obama, but when it got down to it, she would have been ecstatic.)
I meant to write about how I sat there, watching Obama’s speech early in the morning on June 4th, weeping and missing my parents. They were so politically and socially active and they would have been so happy to have lived to see that day, a day that even as recently as this past spring many thought couldn’t happen. Until very recently, even for the most enlightened and progressive among us, the idea of a black presidential nominee, a serious presidential nominee was a quixotic tale, at best.
To presume that Obama was followed around by store detectives in the Honolulu, LA and New York malls he probably frequented when he lived there would not be a stretch. Hell, I bet he got that treatment when he was a lawyer, state legislator and US senator. Of course that was only until someone recognized him. Then it was all nervous “please don’t sue us” apologies. The equivalent of the store saying “Oh! We didn’t realize you were the good kind of nigger!” There are thousands of tales of driving while…, shopping while…, jogging while… and walking while Black.
Continue reading Black (And White) Like Me: Thoughts On Obama, Race And Me In America