Monday, August 4, 2008

And another (Obama) thing . . .

As often happens, my opinion falls somewhere in between The Diva and her husband. Yes, the country has lots to do if we are to reside in a more peaceful, secure ideological (and practical) space; and yes, black America is aching for this black man to pay us some special attention. As I was reading your blog, though, Michelle Obama came to mind. Remember months ago when she was reminding us all that Barack is, after all, just a man? Well, this is a good time to return to that thought.

I was discussing with my husband--let's call him The Ace--an article in which Obama quietly walked away from the idea of reparations. The very next sentence has him suggesting that an apology is owed to Native Americans. I knew that he wasn't perfect and that he would disappoint me in some way soon enough. Here it is. The Ace is really disturbed as well. Practically, I agree that there is no pot of gold from 1865 waiting to supply the 40 acres and a mule that we'd like to have. Heck, if we could buy a house with one full acre so that my children could play a good game of hide-and-seek, I'd fall off my chair. But I get my knickers in a bunch when anyone seems to suggest that the country doesn't even have to be sorry. I say that without taking anything from Native Americans. Certainly, having one's land stolen is no better than being stolen from one's land. And the recent episode of "30 Days" demonstrates the ways in which that community is in dire straits that neighbor those of African Americans. They deserve their apology, but so do black folk. America has made amends to other groups of people, so why so much to do with black America? What's important, though, as Obama tried to suggest, is the third tier of the forgiveness process: what can I do to make it better? He's right that the words don't make my schools equitable to the ones in other parts of the city or country. But we should start with the words. That's important, too.

The other troubling thing about Obama's statement is that he seems to be saying that reparations should come in the form of initiatives to correct inequities in schools and neighborhoods. No. Equity is what America promised in the first place, so you can't get extra credit for that. Every neighborhood should be safe with solid schools and businesses, and that is not related to repairing slavery.

And here's the final "other" thing about Obama: he's just a man. Remember dating? The first date is so exciting and fresh and promising. You like him a lot. He's so different from that last loser who broke your heart. But then, you realize that he really likes that song that makes you want to vomit. And he doesn't keep his car clean all the time. And how many times can he wear that ugly shirt? That's disappointing. But he's a good guy and he's smart and he's trying his best. It's just that, well, he's just a man. That's where I am with Obama. He made me "love this cultured hell that tests my youth" (to quote Claude McKay) . Now, I'm willing to give a little more and believe a little more than ever before. But he's not going to give me everything I need. Neither does my husband. The Diva is there for the other part of me that's needs a female sensability. I'm drinking his Kool-Aid more than any candidate in my lifetime, but Obama is just a man.

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