Friday, November 28, 2008

The Facts

by Andrea Dionne


This is the seventh post that I’ve started about President-Elect Barack Obama.

Here’s hoping that I can finish it.

I’ve been having a really hard time clearly expressing my feelings about the occasion of his election. Since feelings haven’t been working I’ve decided to shift gears and talk about facts.

Barack Obama’s campaign is the first campaign that I have ever felt connected to and inspired by. I donated money. I talked to my family and my friends about it. I even, as the campaign neared its end, called perfect strangers in battleground states to try and get the vote out. This was a big deal for me. I don’t even call my Grandmother and this campaign got me to call people all over the country. I was overwhelmed by the positive reception that I got from people when I told them where I was calling from and why I was calling. This sense of connection to my fellow Americans, the sense that I could actually think of them, without a smirk or a cringe, as my fellow Americans is something that I have never felt in my entire life.
I felt so connected I even called my Grandma.

Nearly everyone in my family voted. My mother, who I don’t believe has voted since the Carter Administration and who has never given money to any candidate, donated to Michelle Obama (that’s how we referred to the Obama campaign in my family, “Michelle Obama”) and voted early for Michelle’s husband.
My sister voted early and took my one year old nephew Malcolm to the polling station with her. She has kept her “I Voted” sticker and keeps putting it on his clothes. He’s too lazy to walk and she chastises him by saying, “Son you won’t be able to be President like Barack Obama if you can’t even put the effort into walking.” He just smiles at her and points to her eyes or his “I Voted” sticker.
My brother, who is a schizoid personality with severe paranoia, registered to vote. My brother prefers jobs that don’t require him to fill out a W-2 form, has allowed my mother to assume the deed or title holder of nearly all of his large possessions and has changed his cell phone number every three to six months for the past 4 years. Five years ago he… well he says that he “escaped” or “took a break” … from the family and refused to allow himself to be found for nearly a year. He still refuses to tell me any specifics about where he is, what he does or where he’s going and he registered to vote and voted early. He told me, “I had to give the government some information so that I could vote for my man Barack. I will be changing the information the same day I make my vote though, trust.” Just because he’s paranoid doesn’t mean he’s not out to get change.

I keep crying. I cried so hard on Election Night (once the guests left) that I astounded myself. I don’t recall ever being that happy in my life. Because it was more than just joy. It occurred to me that I’d really invested a lot of my time and energy into Mr. Obama’s campaign and when he said that it was our victory I believed him. I cried so often on November 5th I was weak the next day. Every time the Election Night photos or the acceptance speech were shown on TV I cried or at least teared up. I’ve being trying to write this post for weeks now and each time I start I end in tears.

I had to step away from this post for a couple of days because I still am having trouble finding the words.

I don’t have a father. I lost him, emotionally at least, when I was about 10 to alcohol. And after he and my mother split when I was thirteen there were years of radio silence. The last time I saw him was when I graduated from high school. It was heartbreaking. I remember being eighteen and looking at this… this shrunken ashen man -- this man who didn’t resemble the Daddy that I’d known and loved and who didn’t even resemble the bitter angry alcoholic Father who ate him. All I could see was the space where he should have been.

That’s not exact. That’s not what I mean.

What I mean is, I looked at him and saw a man who’d given up. Who was past hope and care. He’d shrugged his shoulders and thrown up his hands at first himself, then his family and then the world. He smiled like loose pebbles. He made promises that he didn’t keep and ten years passed before he even so much as called me. He abandoned himself and he abandoned me.

I know that there are good policy reasons and feel-good historic reasons for feeling jubilant about President-Elect Barack Obama but when I see him, I see the Daddy that I should have had. The Daddy that a lot of little girls and little boys (and not so little girls and not so little boys) should have had.

When I see Barack Obama with his daughters I see everything that I lost when I was ten. I see how my father should have filled the space in. I see a man who doesn’t believe in giving up, who smiles like a warm embrace and who calls his daughters every chance he gets. I see someone who would not abandon his responsibilities, Michelle, Malia, Sasha and now the United States of America.
I see someone who looks you in the eyes and tells you the truth. “Yes we can.” I see someone who believes that, “This is our time, to put our people back to work and open doors of opportunity for our kids; to restore prosperity and promote the cause of peace; to reclaim the American dream and reaffirm that fundamental truth, that, out of many, we are one; that while we breathe, we hope. And where we are met with cynicism and doubts and those who tell us that we can't, we will respond with that timeless creed that sums up the spirit of a people: Yes, we can.”

He gives me hope.

That’s a fact.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Let America Be America Again

by Langston Hughes

Let America be America again.
Let it be the dream it used to be.
Let it be the pioneer on the plain
Seeking a home where he himself is free.

(America never was America to me.)

Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed--
Let it be that great strong land of love
Where never kings connive nor tyrants scheme
That any man be crushed by one above.

(It never was America to me.)

O, let my land be a land where Liberty
Is crowned with no false patriotic wreath,
But opportunity is real, and life is free,
Equality is in the air we breathe.

(There's never been equality for me,
Nor freedom in this "homeland of the free.")

Say, who are you that mumbles in the dark?
And who are you that draws your veil across the stars?

I am the poor white, fooled and pushed apart,
I am the Negro bearing slavery's scars.
I am the red man driven from the land,
I am the immigrant clutching the hope I seek--
And finding only the same old stupid plan
Of dog eat dog, of mighty crush the weak.

I am the young man, full of strength and hope,
Tangled in that ancient endless chain
Of profit, power, gain, of grab the land!
Of grab the gold! Of grab the ways of satisfying need!
Of work the men! Of take the pay!
Of owning everything for one's own greed!

I am the farmer, bondsman to the soil.
I am the worker sold to the machine.
I am the Negro, servant to you all.
I am the people, humble, hungry, mean--
Hungry yet today despite the dream.
Beaten yet today--O, Pioneers!
I am the man who never got ahead,
The poorest worker bartered through the years.

Yet I'm the one who dreamt our basic dream
In the Old World while still a serf of kings,
Who dreamt a dream so strong, so brave, so true,
That even yet its mighty daring sings
In every brick and stone, in every furrow turned
That's made America the land it has become.
O, I'm the man who sailed those early seas
In search of what I meant to be my home--
For I'm the one who left dark Ireland's shore,
And Poland's plain, and England's grassy lea,
And torn from Black Africa's strand I came
To build a "homeland of the free."

The free?

Who said the free? Not me?
Surely not me? The millions on relief today?
The millions shot down when we strike?
The millions who have nothing for our pay?
For all the dreams we've dreamed
And all the songs we've sung
And all the hopes we've held
And all the flags we've hung,
The millions who have nothing for our pay--
Except the dream that's almost dead today.

O, let America be America again--
The land that never has been yet--
And yet must be--the land where every man is free.
The land that's mine--the poor man's, Indian's, Negro's, ME--
Who made America,
Whose sweat and blood, whose faith and pain,
Whose hand at the foundry, whose plow in the rain,
Must bring back our mighty dream again.

Sure, call me any ugly name you choose--
The steel of freedom does not stain.
From those who live like leeches on the people's lives,
We must take back our land again,

O, yes,
I say it plain,
America never was America to me,
And yet I swear this oath--
America will be!

Out of the rack and ruin of our gangster death,
The rape and rot of graft, and stealth, and lies,
We, the people, must redeem
The land, the mines, the plants, the rivers.
The mountains and the endless plain--
All, all the stretch of these great green states--
And make America again!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

On the Street

Last night between 3,000 and 4,000 New Yorkers rallied in front of the Mormon Church to protest the church's campaign and support of Prop 8 in California. I happened upon the protesters and made some photos. I asked people throughout the amazing crowd how the event was organized. Everyone said by word of mouth. More than 3,000 mobilized to action by word of mouth.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Monday, November 10, 2008

Magnificent Chaos

This is a representation of the Lorenz Attractor. It is a graphic depiction of the behavior of chaotic flow. Chaos theory describes a dynamic system that appears to evolve randomly while its future is fully defined by conditions that occurred at its origin.

Sunday, November 9, 2008