The DNC: Around the Hood, Sen. Kennedy, and Michelle Obama

Okay so here are my initial thoughts.

I don’t know about your hood, but unlike during the Super Bowl or NBA Finals, when you can here a pin drop outside on the streets and crime is at an all time low because even the gangstas, killas, and dope dealers are watching the game, in my part of Los Angeles, it was business as usual. I guess watching the Democratic National Convention doesn’t compare to the American Idol or So You Think You Can Dance finale’s.

But moving on…

Sen. Ted Kennedy spoke and you would have thought Jesus Christ himself or the Pope had just addressed the crowd. I’m just saying. He may be a Senator, he may be a Kennedy, but he ain’t no God and has contributed just as much to the current state of crisis in this country as his counterparts. There are people all over this country who are dying from cancer, some with insurance, others without—and certainly not the access to the country’s best physicians. What makes this man so different?

Moving on…

Most people watching Michelle Obama tonight address the Democratic National Convention saw America’s future First Lady. A well speaking, articulate, and nicely dressed Black woman. And while there’s nothing wrong with that, I am not most people.

What I saw was a woman—no matter how independent, fierce, and fabulous she is—get up tonight and do her best to convince white America that she isn’t that angry Black woman and that she’s as American as apple pie and soccer moms. I saw a woman that down to the flip in her do, was told how to stand, what to say—including giving props to Sen. Hillary Clinton–, what to wear, and how to act while on stage tonight in order to come off as “American.”

Most people will argue there’s nothing wrong with that. That she’s doing what she has to do to get her man elected as the next president. I would agree in theory. However, how honest are we really being with ourselves about the situation? If the only way Obama can get elected is to distance himself from being Black, then I say we’ve still got a long ways to go.

Now we can kid ourselves all we want and say that this is part of the plan to get him into office and then overnight he’s going to become the “Black President,” and see to it that we get our forty acres and a mule, but the chances of that happening are about the same as Hillary Clinton declining a roll call vote at the convention and crawling under a rock somewhere and disappearing for the rest of the week (taking her husband and daughter with her.)

All I’m saying is that if being American means that I have to give up my locs and Kente cloth for cardigan sweaters and a relaxer in order to avoid being seen as just another angry Black woman because someone else feels that’s how I need to be seen in order to be taken seriously, please take note, I’m no Toby—my name is Kunta Kinte.

That may be a little too deep for some of you to understand.

But perhaps James Baldwin explained it best when he said, “to be a Negro in this country and to be relatively conscious is to be in a rage almost all the time.”

He also said, “the only thing that white people have that black people need, or should want, is power-and no one holds power forever.”

And “the power of the white world is threatened whenever a black man refuses to accept the white world’s definitions.”

There’s a pretty good chance that I will be flying from Los Angeles to Denver to the DNC on Tuesday for work, believe it or not, I’m not that excited about it. I would much rather scream and shout curse words at my television in the comfort of my own home, lol. I’ll keep you posted…

The Court of Public Opinion

  • Nyah M.

    One of the greatest things about the United States (and trust me I am not naive) is the diversity within it. We are only one of the few countries where different groups can live and thrive (well not under Bush) in this country.

    Jasmyne, your locks with the red highlights is the quintessential American. I with my braids and West-Indian tinged accent is the quintessential American.

    I dont feel we have to give up our blackness or conform to be “American”. I feel we have to challenge the definition of “American”. Once we do that, then all of us can be as American as apple pie.

  • Well Jas, I have to disagree with you on this one sis…we’ve waited a longgggggggggggg time for this moment and I think Michelle conducted herself in a very classy manner and I don’t think she was putting on an act or walking/talking the way whitey wanted her to…it’s just that that wasn’t the time nor the place for her to have misplaced anger or show out. She was there to strictly support her husband and being ghetto or proving a point to America that she is a mad, black woman, wasn’t necessary. I think she wore it well, spoke well, made her point that before he is anything, President, Senator, etc..he is her husband and the father of her children and that she loves him, no matter what…to me that’s something that I haven’t seen any of the previous “First Lady’s” get up and do. They can barely remember why they married their husbands, look at the Bush’s, hell look at the Clintons’, when’s the last time you heard Hillary (if ever) say how much she loved Bill (hellooooo the man f’d somebody else right there in the White House under her nose). So, I have to give Michelle her props, because she gave those white Americans more than they bargained for…and she was a lady about it. I just hope we’re all invited to the first bbq in the backyard of the White House…holla

  • Jake

    I am naive, and this is what I hope to see throughout this presidential election. First, that an African_ American
    be respected for their thoughts, not for their athletic skills,
    singing voice, or acting abilities. The goal of this election must be the realization, that we are all people, regardless of our ethnicity, sex, or faith.

  • Kel

    I think M.O. was awesome and I didn’t feel like she was acting at all. Not acting any more than we all (well, us black harvard law ladies operating in the corporate world) have to in order to survive and succeed in this here game.

    Meanwhile, did you peep the Wall Street Journal article this weekend? I’m sure you did. I’m sure you wrote about it. Beyond Barack being a black pres, I love that he is married to M.O. because at least now the topic of what is “black” in America will be discussed more freely and hopefully with less fire. I remember the most heated debates at HLS were not regarding white and black…but black americans vs. black non-americans (african, carribean).

    Anywhether, Hilary better not say a damn thing smart tonight. Or I’m comin for her!

  • Marilyn

    How can you define Blackness? Its not about wearing locs and kente cloth. I believe being Black or White or anything else is being as authentic as you know how to be. And Michelle Obama did not come off to me being anything other than authentic. I thought she was honest and forthcoming. You don’t have to wear your race on your sleeve to be proud of who you are. And you don’t have to suppress it, either. But she couldn’t hide her blackness if she wanted to. Our diversity as Black people and how we express it should be appreciated. We are dynamic. That’s what makes us beautiful.