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Thursday, November 27, 2008

It's Thanksgiving

As a vegetarian, I am not participating in the traditional bird binge. However, I do have my veggies at the ready and plan to have a nice meal. Watching and listening to the events unfold in India tonight, I thought it was time to pause, reflect, and realize all that I am thankful for.

that I live in a country where I probably won't ever face a situation of chaos like they had in Mumbai tonight.

that I am not reeling from the economic collapse, mainly because I downsized years ago thanks to the urging of a good friend.

that I will see friends over the long weekend and enjoy their company rather than get into the shopping frenzy of the 5am crowd on Friday.

that our new president-elect has acted more presidential since Nov. 4th this year than our current president has in the last 8 years. This bodes well for our country.

that there is very little open hostility from extreme quarters about Obama's race.

that I feel like I am making a difference by having taken this new job even though I have moved so far from everyone I love.

that I have the serenity to keep me from going ballistic on my frat house neighbors.

that I have people to care for my cat while I am out of town.

that I am aware, alive, and purposeful on this planet and enjoy all the people, places and goings on around me and in my life. Not too shabby.

Hope everyone has a great holiday weekend!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

What I'm learning from a 3rd grader

I signed up for the lunchtime Big Sisters program in Camden. I visit a 3rd grade student once per week at lunchtime. For me this activity serves multiple purposes. I am in solidarity with the 100,000 of Kansas City, I get to hang out with kids which I was really missing and these kids are fantastic!, and I get to experience a public school in my city and see just how things really are for kids.

This school, by virtue of being in Camden, is all children who are African-American, Latino, and a rainbow of others. I occasionally see an Anglo kid. They wear uniforms that vary by grade. My lil' sis wears a light blue polo with navy pants or tan pants. She loves to accessorize with jewelry or on days like today, a turtleneck underneath the polo. Adorable. If they want to (and can afford it) there is a fancy uniform pinafore to wear. The kids are eager to talk and hang out and they enjoy meeting new people. They all talk about their families at home and extended families. It's great.

What I hate is the chaos of the school. I meet my sis in the lunchroom which is a converted gym. The acoustics add to the din. The teachers get exasperated with the children and start yelling. As the din grows louder, the teacher just shouts louder. You can guess the rest. The kids have 55 minutes to get from their class, to the lunchroom, get food, eat, have recess, and get back to class. It doesn't work real well. Fights erupt, kids are crying, security is bringing kids in from the playground, and using the lunchroom as a time out spot where the offenders and victims are shouting to their friends about who did what. Meanwhile, I'm trying to connect with my sis and her chums. We would have gone to the guidance room as we are supposed to, but it was locked and no one was there. Sigh. But she is a joy and brings a lot of sunshine to my day and week. Camden is bleak. But the kids are a bright spot. I try to keep that thought when I get weary dealing with crazy adults.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

the backlash, ignoring it may not be an option

Amidst the fanfare and euphoria of the election results, come some sobering news stories. A man in Lawrence, KS found anti-Obama racist graffiti on his house next to his Obama yard sign. A black church in the Northeast was burned to the ground and fears arose that the act was related to the election aftermath. A conservative opinion piece appeared in the Philadelphia Inquirer stating that white guilt about race could now be declared dead, along with all affirmative action and other support systems for poor people. At some point, this backlash will intensify and the nation must be ready with a response.

Pundits on the right are gearing up to tear the new President down. This is part of politics and to be expected. The backlash, however, will be carried out against regular people, not the president. And if it is not carried out, then any violence that entails blacks and whites will be laid at the feet of the new President. In my area of the country there was an incident of violence at a local university involving blacks and whites. The very first response was a suggestion that this was in response to the election results. Who knows if that is so, but it is raised as a possibility.

Instead of taking the election of Barack Obama as a cum-bay-ah moment - perhaps we need to be preemptive about the inevitable second guessing and finger pointing. What would that look like? Maybe it would look like the night of the election - where people of all different stripes, joined together, and shared in the victory. If there is a racially tinged incident - we all need to speak up and support whomever is being victimized and let everyone know such attacks will not be tolerated. Will all the euphoria over the Obama victory be channeled in this way? Will the people who said "yes we can" step up and say "yes we do?"

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Global Warmning Wanes as Hell Freezes Over

The old school opinion said it would never happen - but it did. The victory of Obama as our 44th Prez defies superlatives. I've been trying to wrap my head around it all week. Surely, hell has frozen over. I believe I saw a pig fly by. And there goes a beggar on a horse.

Everything looks different. I have no idea where the stock market is at the moment and I don't care. I have confidence in the new administration and whatever happens - even further catastrophe, I know we have a leader I can believe in and trust. It's like a huge weight has been lifted. No longer do I have to second guess the foxes in the white hen house who sought daily to tear down all that I believe in. It's a miracle.

Instead of reading doom and gloom on the web, I am reading dozens of intelligent, uplifting, spirited essays and stories. The intelligentsia has come out of the closet. I just read a story about Generation O - the young people who worked for Obama and danced in the streets on Tuesday. The author said the Us v. Them of the 60's is now over. Thank God! It was exhausting keeping up that divide. LOL. What happened on Tuesday is what that 60's generation was fighting for. They just forgot that fighting could be turned into positive working - more coalition building and less division. And, voila, the job was done.

The symbolism of making the acceptance speech in Grant Park may be lost on Generation O, but not on those who lived through the 60's. It was there that "the whole world was watching" at the Democratic convention in 1968. Mayor Daley put the cops on the hippies and all hell broke loose. The old man must be wondering why he has to wear a coat now - see the title of this post. But many of us who are not in Generation O get it too. We use Facebook. We text message. We email. We twitter. So maybe it is time to stop labeling the generations and let us all be one. In the old days, people were expected to age with dignity - meaning shrivel up and get out of the way. Not so today. Our Rock n Roll roots continue to drive the modern culture. It is a beautiful blend and the election proved it.

So here is to old and new, hippies and O'ers, Millenium, Gen-Xers, and everyone in between. We are one nation. Yes we can. Yes we did. Yes we will.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Today is THE day!

8am EST: I voted. I cried. I am overwhelmed. The enormity of the day hit me. I thought back to my childhood and all the racism I saw inflicted in Chicago. I thought back to my family and all the times the N word flew. I thought back to my first job as a white minority in a black social service agency. I thought about my white privilege. It is a profound honor to cast my vote for Sen. Obama. I'll check in throughout the day on this blog to record this momentous occasion. Wow.

Noon EST: I'm reading about friends in KC who had to wait hours to vote because the wrong voter registration books were at the polls. Hope people who had to leave will come back later. I can't break away from CNN audio - hearing about reports all over the country on voting experiences. The anticipation is excruciating! The turnout seems to be overwhelming!! What a day!!!

3pm EST: I made 100 phone calls for Obama to voters in Pennsylvania - tough room to work, as these were NOT in Philadelphia. But hey, I did get to talk to 2 people who DID vote for Obama and one sweet older lady who was on her way to go vote for him! Made me feel like I made a contribution to the street effort to GOTV!

Midnight+ EST: I let the returns wash over me like an elixir. I am seeing what I had hoped for. I'm experiencing what I never thought I would see. After FL in 2000 and OH in 2004, now there is no doubt. A victory so stunning, so overwhelming, there is no need for a recount. Watching everyone in Grant Park in Chicago made me homesick, wishing I could be there to enjoy the revelry. Watching the faces of all the people, representing our country, yes OUR country, is profound. Then the speech. Children will learn it and recite it. I wept at its elegance, its hope, its inspiration. I have never been so moved by a political speech, one person's vision for all of us. I will never, never forget this moment. I am so lucky to be here. I look forward to the tomorrow. Yes we can - have hope, have peace, have prosperity, have equality.