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.