I’m in the middle of Obama’s fascinating memoir, Dreams from my Father: A Story of Race & Inheritance. Of all the memoirs I’ve ever read, Obama’s by far is the most complex. Sometimes I find myself rereading a few sentences over & over again, thinking “what on earth did he just say?”
Last year, Joe Biden got in trouble for calling Barack Obama an “articulate” black man. 98% of black America (and most whites as well) know that it is bad news for a white man to call a black man “articulate.” Yes, it sounds like a nice compliment ~ at first. But in the end the underlying message is: “this one black man is articulate and exceptional not like the rest of you idiots,” etc. etc. This is why, after all, the story made national news. And why so many of us were shocked when he got chosen as a running mate.
Poor Joe Biden. He was exactly right. Obama is extremely articulate ~not just as a black man, or an American, but as compared to all humanity. This is one reason why, I believe, he’s now the most powerful man on earth. I mean, honestly, have you seen this man give a speech? The man has a way with words. And from reading his memoir, it’s obvious he has always been incredibly deep and a born communicator.Here’s my problem with Barack: he’s all ready said what I want to say. As it turns out, as biracial black-and-white kids we experienced some of the same things. He went through an eerily similar thought process about having a white mother, an absent black father, growing up in white schools, resenting whites, resenting racism, needing whites, confusion over skin color and attraction to the opposite sex & race. And on & on.
Though I grew up in the hood of Detroit, MI & Barack in Hawii & Indonesia -seperated by my being a ‘gen x’er’ & his a ‘baby boomer,’ it’s actually remarkable how growing up biracial/black in America churns out the same emotions across the board.
Now, what am I supposed to write in my book that Barack hasn’t all ready said extremely well? His memoir reads smooth and creamy like brand new honey. He articulates his raw emotions about race with power, beauty and vulnerablity. He understands being caught in the middle. He understands feeling smarter than everyone every where you go because you know both cultures inside and out ~ feeling uncomfortably content to swivel through both. Here I thought I had something new to add to this bizarre experience of being two races (who for all intents & purposes do not understand one another) and alas, our freaking President has all ready said it!
Just great, thanks Obama! 🙂