"There's not a Red America, or a Blue America, there's the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA." ---Barack Obama, 2004

Saturday, March 7, 2009

A much-needed discussion has begun

I first want to issue my deepest apologies for not posting more often as of late, especially in light of some interesting political times going on right now.

I'm commenting on exactly that thing today...aren't you relieved?

been a combination of things, ranging from a little burnout and a vacation from blogging to a more legitimate reason, which involves a business I'm starting up and launching a website in conjunction with networking, media packets, and a whole host of other things...such as accounting...jeepers, do I really have to keep the books current?

Oh yeah, there's that thing called the IRS, I guess I should...but it's, uh, not my strong suit.


One of the networking events I attended this past week is through an online group called Biznik, and so far I give it a two thumbs up.

The event was at the Cactus, across from Alki Beach north of West Seattle. There were about 10 folks there, most of whom work in completely different industries. It was billed as the sort of event where
you want to put on your professional hat and be on somewhat filtered behavior...which, I'm proud to say, can be challenging for me at times. Generally that's a good thing, as being square sucks and is no fun...but with this sort of thing, and in an effort to put a professional image out there, I guess I can check the wierd beard at the door...for 20 minutes...clock's ticking!

That being said, I did not expect to have a protracted discussion about race and politics with an African American lady, who we'll refer to as "V." That's something I would have never expected at all anytime soon, let alone at a professional networking luncheon.

I arrived be
fore about 3-4 others, and V entered; a tall slender woman with a big laughing smile, wearing an Obama pin that almost looked homemade but really slick, stating "The New Hope" and sporting a picture of Barack and Michelle.

Since we were together at one end of the table, we started discussing this and that...then I decided to ask about the Obama pin.

The discussion quickly ~ and comfortably ~ got into political ideals and anecdotes, which was easy since we'r
e all Obamaheads...and some race-realted current events of the time were brought up, such as the former Klansman who apologized to John Lewis for beating him up when he was marching in the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s.

The most moving part of my conversation, however, was hearing the story of V's father and uncle, who had passed away a few years before Obama was elected. I can't imagine how much their presence during the election would have meant to her (see my previous blog about something similar to that notion), and hearing her voice crack when she spoke about it, and seeing her eyes water a bit drove home the gravity of what this past election means to the black community and all of America.

The greatest, most enduring effect I believe Obama is having with the country ~ and begun when he started running for office just over two years ago ~ is propelling the discussion of race into a place where blacks and whites can feel comfortable talking about it.

Through all the awesome, progressive-thinking policies of the Administration ~ through all the undying hope and dreams that citizens will be able to realize in the years ahead that they otherwise would
n't ~ through everything that the Obama Presidency means to this day and through a historical perspective ~ I believe his greatest legacy could be the discussion he empowers progressive-minded folks with on the streets of America.

It's made changes in our everday lives, in the way blacks and whites interact with one another in our day-to-day business.

To folks who are 35 and older, this is especially an important step in the evolution of the American mindset. In the past, whites felt like they couldn't bring up the subject, afraid they were going to offend somebody...and blacks, based on conversations I've had, perhaps felt uncomfortable with it because they thought they might make whites uncomfortable ~ as it conjures up
a shameful, horrific period in American history.

The reasons for NOT talking about it were all numerous, complex, emotionally-tinged, and deeply personal...and opened up too much room for misinterpretation...so why bring it up at all?

Obama ended all that...not only becuase of his great abilities as a leader, but I believe also because of what he represents genetically. The way I see it, he's the purest representation of America having come from an Anglo mother and a Kenyan father. Both blacks and whites can identify with him, and are invested in him on many levels.

Obama represents our meeting spot...he's our virtual meeting place if you like. He opens up discussions in restaurants, bars, cafes, ballparks, and living rooms all over the country. Amen! Let the discussions happen! Let MLK's dream reign! Let the cork pop out of the bottle and the wine hath shall flow!

I'm not saying these cross cultural and cross-racial discussions should happen every time whites, blacks, Middle Easterners, Asians, Hispanics, Indians, and Native Americans get together...that's not realistic, and we're naive to assume that everyone and their mother is going to be comfortable with it...but, more often than before, it's there if we want to go there, and we can be more comfortable with it.

I'd venture to say that's a light year leap from where we were at even three years ago.

This is a healthy thing we've been waiting for...this is something American needs. An evolution of the minds. A way to rehabilitate sad minds, heal old wounds, and amend silly perceptions through this much-needed discussion that has begun.

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