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18 March, 2008

The Only Thing That We Done Right Was The Day We Begun To Fight

I was just reading this article about being multi-ethnic and thinking of the shape of things. Not just the overt play of racial politics in this election, though that's a part of it. Thinking of the people I know who get called "biracial" (some of whom object to the term because they are more than bi), my cousins who straddle the Yankee blueblood heritage I know with black kin who still bathed in a tin tub in the kitchen with water boiled in a kettle when I was a kid, my friend who taught me how to take care of her hair so that I could write about it, the intersections of intersections. The fact that had I been born to parents like mine a hundred years ago, I would be "multiracial": white and Irish and Slav.

My family watched the movie Across the Universe last night, which was full of many things, and I find myself thinking of the sequence that began with the 12th Street Riot, with a black boy singing, softly, "Let It Be", as he huddled behind a car. And the flow of it, the song taken up by a gospel choir for the twinned funerals of that boy and that of a soldier killed in Vietnam.

And I'm too young to know that turmoil personally, but I knew enough to tear up. Knew enough in my soul steeped as thoroughly as it is in Keep On Walking And We Shall Be Free, in Long Time Passing, in How Many Ears Must One Man Have Before He Can Hear People Cry. I know the music, at least, well enough to have a passing familiarity, and the movie's cosntant backdrop of violence was the more real for it.

And it's with that in my mind that I read the speech Barack Obama made, addressing the issues of race, of black church, of so many other things. And I think of Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Est├ęs writing "Michelle Obama: Those Who Say: "I Ain’t Voting For No Nigger"", and of Orcinus's refutation of the Obama campain as a "cult" as the insidious drivel that it is.

And I get to the part of the speech, after all the pain and broken lives and the memories and legacy thereof that's in my head to think about today are cited, this:

Or, at this moment, in this election, we can come together and say, "Not this time." This time we want to talk about the crumbling schools that are stealing the future of black children and white children and Asian children and Hispanic children and Native American children. This time we want to reject the cynicism that tells us that these kids can't learn; that those kids who don't look like us are somebody else's problem. The children of America are not those kids, they are our kids, and we will not let them fall behind in a 21st century economy. Not this time.


And more like it, but education was first listed and so utterly dear to my heart, my pet issue.

And I say, from the depths of my heart: Hold on. Hold on.

I think, also, that I'm here because of Ashley.

3 comments:

Daisy said...

Great post! Obama rocks! I'm proud he didn't run from the controversy, or downplay it.

Geerte said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dalandra said...

You're triggering long stories for me, about my boyfriend, whose mother is from Surinam and left there before the independence (Dutch nationality, bloodlines from Masai and NA tribes, Germany, Jews, and a great many more) and whose father is Dutch, from one of the more redneck-type areas of the country. Much as they burn on my tongue, though, they're not mine to share with the internet.

[The above was also mine, mixing up google accounts]