Month: July 2008

The Learning Curve

That was the sound that awoke me from a pretty sound sleep at 2 a.m. Monday morning.
My Significant Other was floating around on the Internet when he came across the picture accompanying this post on the National Association of Black Journalists Sports Task Force listserve.
He described it to me and I sort of knew why I was sitting up in bed bleary eyed instead of sound asleep.
For those of you to whom it may look familiar, it’s a take-off on another picture that you’ve seen on this blog, attached to a post entitled “This is Our Moment”.
The only difference, aside fron the way the couple is dressed, the flag in the fireplace, and the portrait of Osama Bin Laden on the wall, is that in its original form, the live shot of Barack and Michelle Obama giving each other a “pound” isn’t the kind of picture that tends to piss off a sportswriter with a masters degree in African American Studies.
He woke me up to make sure that he wasn’t mad alone.
He shouldn’t have bothered because the “I’m Mad at the New Yorker” club was already full.
To give you a full representation of the reaction to this picture from the members of my tribe who saw it, they ranged from “Fuck the New Yorker” to “What were they thinking?” Even the Office Manager at my job stopped me to ask about it.
Now having been a professional smart ass for the better part of 44 years, I can tell you where the New Yorker was going with this. They were using the time-honored method of satire to talk about all of the different rumors going around about the Obamas.
By now, you’ve heard ’em all. He’s a Muslim. His wife hates America. He was educated in a radical Islamic madrassa in Singapore. Hell, if you’ve watched Fox News for longer than five minutes, something I’d never encourage because it’ll rot your brain faster than “The Jerry Springer Show”, you’ve probably heard a few I haven’t yet.
Personally, I can see the funny in some of it. This particular batch of rumors and innuendo just cries to be made fun of.
But because there are just enough folks who believe that this is what an Obama White House is going to look like, it’s hard for black folks in particular to allow themselves to get in on the joke.
Don’t believe me? Listen to National Public Radio sometime. I can’t tell you how many folks from the so-called “Heartland” have called Obama “Osama” during the primary season.
Because of this, if the artist who did this portrait is at all smart, he’ll stay away from this week’s NAACP convention in Cincinnati. I can name at least 20 black folks off of the top of my head who would cheerfully whup his ass and they may be in attendance.
But while this is an annoyance, it’s also a sign that class is going to be in session during this Presidential Cycle, especially since we now have a Black Man trying to bring his family to the White House.
We’re going to find out where we really are on race relations. We’re going to find out just how “progressive” our progressives are. We’re going to find out if white America can put aside some if its fears of a black man to elect one to its highest office.
But most importantly, we’re going to find out just how much of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream, a dream that he said was based on this nation’s ideas, the United States of America is ready to live.
On Thursday, Aug. 28, the 45th anniversary of the “I Have a Dream” speech, we officially start learning.
Here’s hoping that we don’t have a really steep curve.