The Marc Steiner Show

Thankful to be a witness: a guest blog from Diana Veiga

 
As part of our coverage for the 2008 Democratic National Convention, we’re excited to bring you a series of posts from guest bloggers.  We’re thrilled to begin with Maryland Blogger Diana Veiga, who blogs over at 5andapossible.blogspot.com, which is a great group blog written by five young women (we’ll be meeting another of their contributors later during the convention).  Enjoy!

 

If you believe what the polls say, I am probably one of the few black people who is not ardently supporting presumptive Democratic Presidential nominee Barack Obama.  When I mention my hesitation about Obama to an avid supporter (and they are all around us), I am often met with dropped jaws and disappointed looks.  Apparently this is the black race’s one and only chance, so I better get on the bandwagon.  “But what’s he going to do for us,” I ask them.  “Girl, he’s not running for President of Black America, he can’t just cater to us,” they say.  Perhaps.  And then like any good believer would do, they “school” me on Obama’s credentials and end with, “and he’s going to change the nation.”  We won’t go into the fact that when I ask how, I have heard some of the craziest responses, including, “We’re finally going to have a black angel on the National Christmas tree.” OK, that’s change I can believe in.

 

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So believe me, thanks to the media and the masses, I know this man’s life story and résumé.  Abandoned by his Kenyan father.  Raised in Hawaii by his white mother from Kansas.  Spent his adolescence and college years struggling to find his identity.  Harvard Law Review President.  Turned down lucrative jobs and became a community organizer on the mean, cold Southside Chicago streets.  Worked across the aisle as a State Senator of Illinois.  And on and on. I get it.  But something has never sat right with me. Maybe it was that I couldn’t see past the flowery rhetoric.  Yes we can! Can, what?  Change!  Change, what?  We are one America!  In whose eyes?  Maybe it’s because when it came down to policies, Obama and Hillary were essentially the same person.  But thankfully he was able to stand apart because of his what?  Rhetoric.  Can’t knock the hustle.  

This is not to say that I am not impressed with Obama.  I am.  He is charismatic, sharp and beyond brilliant.  And he’s clearly a man with a plan. I mean let’s not act like any of this is happenstance.  And it’s not that I don’t think that Obama is capable to lead this nation.  I think he’s beyond capable.  I just can’t buy what he’s selling.  And maybe I can’t get into believing in one person that wholeheartedly.  Of course I have already been called cynical.  But I prefer to think of myself as both a skeptic and a realist who understands that all politicians (Obama included) no matter how noble walk that tightrope of sticking to their convictions and saying the right words to the right people to get elected.

However, having said all this, I can’t ignore or deny the phenomenon that is happening right now in my lifetime.  This week Obama will accept the Democratic Party’s nomination for President of the United States.  This is more than a monumental occasion for African Americans in this country.  It’s powerful.  It’s mind bending.  It’s something many thought they’d never live to see.

My mother is from Selma, Alabama. She grew up during the Civil Rights era and she, her siblings and parents were literally bloodied and beaten in the fight for equality.  They were on the Edmund Pettus Bridge on Bloody Sunday.  My mother who attended high school in Montgomery was nearly expelled for participating in the Selma to Montgomery march. My grandparents were jailed multiple times.  My great grandmother marched on the courthouse steps and finally voted for the first time at the age of sixty.  She then voted for any and every local, state, and national election until her death. And so I understand what this moment means to black people, young and old, those who remember the arduous past, those who are hungry for a vibrant future, and everyone in between.

And so on Thursday, August 28, 2008, exactly forty five years after Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his I Have a Dream Speech from the Lincoln Memorial, Obama will take center stage and accept his party’s nomination.  It will be historical.  Unprecedented.  Groundbreaking. Breathtaking.  And honestly, I too wait with bated breath.  I with the rest of the black race, with the rest of the nation, with the rest of the world, plan to be on my couch, in front of my television captivated by the moment, hanging on to Obama’s every word.  I will be smiling.  I will feel proud.  I will save my newspaper to show to my children and grandchildren.  I mean I may be a skeptic, but I’m no fool.  This might be a Halley’s Comet moment right here.  Once in a lifetime.  Or it could be just the beginning.  A preview of what’s to come.  Whatever it is, I’m thankful that I’m a witness to it all.

-Diana Veiga

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Written by Marc Steiner

Marc Steiner

The Marc Steiner Show airs Monday thru Friday from 10AM to Noon on WEAA 88.9 FM. The show covers the topics that matter, engaging real voices, from Charm City to Cairo and beyond. Call us at 410.319.8888 or email us to participate live in the show, or share your comments on our site! Aren’t in Baltimore but want to listen? Stream the show live.


Comments

  1. I am so sick of this idea that the entire black community is just in love with Obama and think he is the second coming of Christ. The New York Times Magazine asked in big block letters on it’s cover a few weeks ago “IS OBAMA THE END OF BLACK POLITICS?” What a stupid cover. Yeah, Obama is going to fix every single problem related to racial disparity on a local, state and federal level so there will no longer be a need for “black politics”. What hogwash! People seem to be so incapable of having nuanced conversations about race.

    Glad to welcome you Diana to the CEM blog!

  2. First, I don’t dislike Obama. Way back in 2007, pre-Iowa, the Washington Post offered a section featuring the major candidates’ views on certain issues/policies. Everything was presented anonymously and you had to select which one resonated with you best. I read all the stances and it turns out I was more aligned with Bill Richardson’s views. This led to my own research, etc. So early on I was never on the same page w/ Obama policy wise.

    When I said I can’t buy what he’s selling, I just meant that I’m not the type of person who needs to hear that we are all in this together spiel, the whole there are no red states, blue states, just one America. I was just in small town Vermont and I know we aren’t one America…yet. I don’t need the razzle dazzle, star quality, charisma because I know that it fades. I understand it’s the nature of politics and I respect Obama for not just playing but mastering the game. And I’m excited that he has made it this far. The other day my father made an off hand comment that I think was pretty accurate: You’re not sure if Obama is telling the truth, but you’re sure McCain is lying. For real. But therein lies the problem for me.

  3. I’m just interested in hearing, in a more specific way, what you dislike about Obama. You say that you are simply not buying what he is selling. That’s fine. Why not? Is there someone who is selling a product that is better? I think it quite mature of you to avoid voting for a candidate solely on the issue of race. There would be no way that I would vote for Clarence Thomas or Alan Keyes. I’m just curious about your hangups with Obama…you never really stated them.
    Best,
    eRiC
    http://www.drericdurham.com…here you’ll find a link to my BlogSpots as well.

  4. Helen –

    Thanks for the warm welcome! These past few months have been hard for a sista! Just my questioning Obama’s stances/words/actions have led to glares, interogations, and arguments. Thankfully, we’re in the home stretch!

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