Got Hope? Act on it.

May 13th, 2010 § 1 comment § permalink

Amber,

So I’ve been struggling with what next to post on our blog, then you bust this out and the struggle is over! I watched this Boondocks episode and definitely had some actual lol moments. And some uncomfortable ones. But I pondered the underlying message: did we think the day after Obama’s inauguration we’d awaken to life without war, without economic trouble, without angry opponents or bitter feuds? Is hope irrational?

I suggest that hope without action is irrational. Obama has taken several stances that have annoyed or downright angered me. Most recently, his wobbling on miranda rights to citizens who are terror suspects. Going down that road scares me. But I’m reminded that he was elected as President, not as revolutionary. Some presidents have made bold choices and courageous actions, but rarely as lone figures or without movements to back them up. He could be an ally, but he’s not a saint. He’s not the leader of a movement; he’s the leader of a country. If we want him to take a strong stance against this Arizona law (and for immigration reform), I think we’ve got to shout and protest and march. The tea party is small in number, but you’d think they were 3/4 of the population just cuz they make so much damn noise (and the media provides a megaphone).

I was definitely one of those standing in the cold cheering as he became president. I felt exhilarated. And yes, that feeling starts to wear off. But then I work with kids/teens and I marvel that a black president is a part of their young reality. And I listen to him address some issues with such thought and understanding that I hope all over again. He’s still a breath of fresh air. We’ve definitely got something real to work with! (For instance, I read today that he’s shifting from the “war on drugs” and moving to addressing it as a public health issue. I like.)

I believe for any change to happen, we must have hope coupled with action. Without action, we lose hope, and without hope, there’s only crippling despair that nothing will change. And then it won’t.

So, I love hope. Hope gets me moving.

That’s my piece.

(Plus, hope doesn’t mean ignoring that it’s deep. Obama’s presidency? Complicated.)

“Hope is Irrational”: The Boondocks Takes on Our Black President

May 12th, 2010 § 2 comments § permalink


Liz,

The Boondocks recently came off of its two year long hiatus and has aired the first two episodes of its third season. I haven’t yet caught the second episode, but I watched the first this past weekend. Unsurprisingly, it woke up all of the mixed feelings I’ve had about the series from the beginning. Though I must admit, that it is hard to miss the social commentary (especially in the most recent episode), you are still afraid that someone, somewhere will miss the point, causing you to both laugh and cringe at the clever caricatures and the racial profanity (especially since it’s aired on Cartoon Network—Adult Swim or not, you can’t deny that the chil’ren are most likely watching).

In the first episode, the portrayal of the Obama campaign, the historic 2008 election, and so much of the aftermath that has ensued in Obama’s first year and half as President, really caught my attention. After a series of recent conversations with friends who expressed their disappointment in Obama’s inaction and reticence regarding the S.B. 1070 Law in Arizona and its consequences, his decision to allow off-shore drilling (although we all just got a huge wake-up call), and his overall administrative agenda which is revealing itself to be quite politically strategic, I found myself letting out a huge sigh as I reflected on many of the political and social realities highlighted in McGruder’s cartoon.

I think Audre (the)Lorde said it best, “The master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house.” Many of us were hoping for radical (maybe on the way to revolutionary) change. Obama came at a time when so many of us were tired and disillusioned. I know I was, and in the 2004 election I wasn’t even old enough to vote. Real Talk.

I remember when studying abroad in Ghana in early 2008, that Obama fever gripped the country. My home-stay family was more excited than I was about the prospect of a Black man in the highest office of the Unites States of America. I seriously didn’t believe it could happen. It wasn’t until the Summer of 2008 (when back in the US) that I became captivated by this man—“a modern-day visionary,” who somehow seemed to work and reach far across color, gender, class, and cultural lines in this country. I tried to keep reminding myself to not give in completely to the hype.

I cried when he won. I skipped the first day of classes in the second semester of my senior year in undergrad to make my way to Washington, D.C. to see my President sworn in and to celebrate with millions of others on Inauguration Day. Again, I tried to remind myself to not give in completely to the hype.

Approximately 1.5 years later, it does seem as if Obama made many promises that he is now struggling to keep and I do often find myself wishing that he’d make a little more noise.

*SIGH*

After all things considered, I am still Team Obama. The man has a lot on his plate. He entered into the presidency at one of the most unstable periods in American history, and has had to clean up a whole lot of mess on top of dealing with those who are determined to maintain the status quo—something his physicality coupled with his position of power, has dramatically threatened. He has been making baby steps toward progress, and I must admit, that when I see him and the first lady addressing a crowd, I still get goosebumps.

Huey says “Hope is irrational.” I feel you, Huey, but if we can’t hope, we’ve really got nothing left.

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