Category Archives: Barack Obama

Sen. McCain and the Politics of Misdirection

Sen. John McCain has run his entire campaign against Sen. Barack Obama based on the oft stated belief that Obama lacks the experience to lead this country. The McCain campaign has repeatedly discounted Obama’s demonstrated knowledge of domestic and foreign policy and characterized the Harvard Law School graduate as a political neophyte.

Just three weeks ago on Face The Nation, Republican strategist Karl Rove opined that he expected the then presumptive Democratic nominee Barack Obama to choose a running mate based on political expediency, not the person’s readiness for the job.

“I think he’s going to make an intensely political choice, not a governing choice,” Rove said. “He’s going to view this through the prism of a candidate, not through the prism of president; that is to say, he’s going to pick somebody that he thinks will on the margin help him in a state like Indiana or Missouri or Virginia. He’s not going to be thinking big and broad about the responsibilities of president.”

Rove then proceeded to single out Virginia governor Tim Kaine, who was also a guest on Face The Nation as an example of such a disastrous and ill-thought out selection for a vice presidential running mate, saying of and to Gov. Kaine (the man was sitting right there), “With all due respect again to Governor Kaine, he’s been a governor for three years, he’s been able but undistinguished. I don’t think people could really name a big, important thing that he’s done. He was mayor of the 105th largest city in America.”

Funny, but I do believe that I could substitute Alaskan Gov. Sarah Palin for Kaine and not have to change another word in Rove’s statement. Oops! I’m wrong, Palin was the mayor of Wasilla, population in 2007, according to the U.S. census–9,780. (The 105th largest city of which Kaine was once mayor is Richmond,VA., population of 200,123 in 2007, according to the U.S. census.) I’m not certain as to where Wasilla ranks in population among U.S. cities but somehow I think that it is substantially less than 105th.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that having experience as mayor of a tiny town and only 20 months as governor of a state not known for being densely populated means that one is not qualified for the office of vice president. Nor am I flat out stating that Palin’s anti-choice, pro-NRA, positions don’t exactly make her the poster woman for the women’s movement. Nor am I questioning the wisdom of selecting a running mate with whom McCain’s own camp confirms he had only met once before selecting her to be on his ticket; a running mate who could feasibly find herself in the position of having to actually step into the oval office, given the age and prior health issues that have beset Sen. McCain. I’m just fascinated with the difference in attitude that the Republican party has towards its own choices and the choices of the Democratic party.

That’s what led me to ponder why McCain selected Gov. Palin as his running mate. While I was busy pondering, headlines in newspapers and talking heads on my television explained it to me in terms that even a four year old could understand. The basic message appears to be that in selecting Gov. Palin, the McCain campaign has strengthened its position with women voters. All of the Hillary Clinton supporters, who were only voting for Hillary because she was a woman, will tumble for John McCain, and give up the vote.

With apologies to village idiots everywhere, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, Senator John McCain, is a class-A idiot if he really thinks that people supported Hillary Clinton because she is a woman. They supported Senator Clinton because she is intelligent, capable, and has leadership qualities; the same reasons that Obama’s supporters support him. What an insult to every person who supported Hillary to assume that they will fall over themselves to jump on the McCain bandwagon just because he has a female running mate.

I have no more patience with those who continue to assert that Obama supporters do so because he has a black father or that Hillary’s followers supported her because she was a woman. Get over yourselves and stop clinging to the belief that the only possible explanation for Obama’s or Hillary Clinton’s successes in this presidential campaign is because all black people support Obama and white women (feminists to boot!) support Hillary Clinton. Guess what, old white men are not the only, nor the best choice for leading everything. It’s a new world in the United States of America, and it’s about damn time.

Other countries have been able to broaden their horizons to encompass leadership that isn’t dependent on having a penis–India, Pakistan, Great Britain, and Israel are just a few modern governments that come to mind. As for race, it should be the shame of this country, founded on the proposition that, “all men are created equal,” that it has only seen fit to allow white males to ascend to the leadership of the allegedly most powerful nation in the free world.

Palin is a woman, and I certainly don’t disparage her for her gender, but neither am I going to do cartwheels over her selection. (Btw, I proudly identify myself as a feminist.) I’m choosing to have faith in the ability of the majority of women to think rationally and I am refusing to succumb to any concern that the rest of my gender is going to fall down and worship at the altar of McCain simply because he has Palin at his side.

If you must vote for McCain, let it be because you don’t believe that addressing the needs of the 47 million uninsured Americans is a priority, let it be because you believe that the wealthiest one percent of the population are entitled to even more tax breaks, let it be because you support an energy strategy that involves off shore drilling as a solution to the energy crisis, or because you agree with his position of staying in Iraq indefinitely, but for heaven’s sake, don’t fall for his Houdini-style misdirection act of selecting a woman as a running mate.

One of my favorite actresses is Bette Davis. I love Kim Carnes 1980s hit, Bette Davis Eyes. I know that Bette would never fall for some obvious manipulative ploy.


Obama Is the Nominee, And I like It!

“No way, no how, no McCain.”–Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton

I’ve been on that “working my ass off” hamster wheel again, but at 6:50 pm, I was given reason to pause. The phone rang and my long time friend, BT, aka boy toy, was on the line. Having just walked into the house, I was a little less than focused, and had to ask him to repeat his enthused statement.

“The black guy is officially the nominee!”

BT has known me for a long time, so he knew that he had to give me a few seconds for his words to sink in fully. There is a wonderful harmony in BT being the first person to inform me that Barack Obama was the presidential nominee of the Democratic Party by acclamation. I first met BT when he was a senior in my high school English class. He returned to work at the same high school upon his graduation from college, and we became good friends. He played a substantial role in encouraging me to have the guts to quit my teaching job and go to law school. He also happens to be white. I think that our friendship is the perfect reflection of the potential that this country has to move beyond the barriers of separatism based on race.

I didn’t talk with him very long. My call waiting beeped and knowing that it was my sister, I bid BT goodbye and switched to my sister’s call. I think that I screamed in her ear but I don’t know exactly what I said. We both admitted to crying tears of joy tinged with a hint of sorrow. Sorrow for all of the black men and women who are no longer with us, who never dreamed that this day would come. Sorrow for all of our ancestors who resolutely held on to their dignity in a society that intentionally and systematically sought to strip it from them. Sorrow for a childhood of “no coloreds allowed” and “white only.”

But it is a sweet sorrow, a gentle sorrow, soothed by time and comforted by hope. I have an audacious hope that America is standing on the edge of a new era, an era in which no child’s dreams will ever be deferred because of the color of his or her skin.

I know that there are those of you who continue to say that you are afraid of Barack Obama; perhaps you should be. You should also be afraid of me. I believe that all people are created equal. I believe that peace can only be achieved if we’re willing to sit down with our enemies and find mutual ground. I believe that it is our collective responsibility to ensure that all of us have the basic necessities of food, clothing, shelter, and health care. I believe that our public education system must be overhauled and shaped into a haven that brings out the best in every child. I believe that the purpose of government is to secure certain unalienable rights, and that among these rights are “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” All of these things are among the reasons that I support Barack Obama. Clearly, me and Barack are very dangerous people.

Who knows what will happen when he becomes president? We might actually develop a doable strategy for bringing home our young men and women from Iraq. The wealthiest one percent of Americans may have to pay their fair share of taxes. Even the poorest among us may have full access to quality health care. Pretty scary stuff, but if this doesn’t leave you quaking in your shoes, let me share something really scary. Perhaps under the Obama administration, John McCain may actually have to live in one house like the rest of us!

I’m 53 years old, black, female, and southern. I grew up under Jim Crow laws. I witnessed the steady growth and eventual blossoming of the civil rights movement that killed and buried Jim Crow. At times I’ve been high on hope, and at other times, drunk on despair as to the status of race relations in these United States. I know too much about hate to believe that Senator’s Obama’s nomination will instantaneously heal all the wounds of racism that have ripped apart this country for generations, but my joy overflows that today, at 6:48 pm eastern standard time, a giant step was made in the right direction towards becoming the America to which we aspire.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,The Declaration of Independence, 1776

Love Train by the O’Jays was played at the DNC following Senator Barack Obama’s nomination for president by acclamation. I found this video on reliable YouTube.

Me and Paris Are Tight

When I was much younger, I used to swear that I would never lament the wicked and sorry ways of the younger generation the way everyone over 40 bemoaned that my generation was heading straight for hell in a row boat. I lied. I find myself constantly lamenting the state of today’s youth. However, I’ve decided to repent and take to higher ground, and it’s all because of Paris Hilton. I confess that I have never been a fan of Paris Hilton; however, I now realize that Paris was not looking for a 53-year-old woman to hang with her at the club. She probably never knew and didn’t care that I wasn’t a fan. Nonetheless, I’m sorry Paris for my harsh words. I did stupid stuff when I was young too, and I’m only grateful that there wasn’t a crowd of people following me around with a camera while I did it. Regardless of your misbegotten past, you have redeemed yourself in my eyes.

Just in case you’ve been in a remote part of the Sahara without access to any media, let me provide you with a little background. Senator McCain and his campaign made a lot of noise about Senator Obama’s alleged lack of foreign policy experience, suggesting that he lacked the knowledge and skills to be viewed credibly as a leader by the leadership of foreign governments around the world. They challenged Obama to go abroad and suggested that if he did so, he would be revealed to be unprepared to face a world stage. Well, Senator Obama took the challenge, went overseas, and…well let’s just say, he went, he saw, and he conquered. Crowds in the hundreds of thousands cheered him, heads of state welcomed him, the foreign press reported him to be knowledgeable and personable, and favorably compared him to other great statesmen in history who preceded him.

Senator McCain’s camp was displeased. That displeasure was expressed with a little video that chides Obama for being nothing more than an international celebrity, incapable of doing more than smile and wave. To hammer home the point, the video pictures Brittney Spears, followed by Paris Hilton, and then that fluffy celebrity, Barack Obama. Unlike some of the bizarre attacks on Obama, this one is not from some fringe group; the closing voice-over and tag-line say it all, “I’m John McCain and I approve this message.”

I’m going to reveal something that may shock some of you; I laughed so hard when I saw this video that I gave myself the hiccups. Can you spell d-e-s-p-e-r-a-t-e, boys and girls? First, the McCain campaign said that Obama didn’t have what it takes to be the representative of the free world, now their take is that he’s too popular! Somebody in McCain’s campaign not only smoked but inhaled–a lot! I can only assume that the ad is meant to be an attack on Senator Obama. Sorry, Senator McCain, but if I were you, I’d pimp slap whoever dreamed up the idea for this commercial. (BTW, check out an entertaining post about the video and other campaign matters on a journal, Skelligrants , that I recently started reading.)

Just when I thought that I was all laughed out, I came across a response to the McCain campaign ad, not from Senator Obama, but from Paris Hilton. I laughed, I hiccuped, snorted and cried. I would have rolled on the floor but I didn’t want to have to call Bob and announce, “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up.” I don’t want to hear anyone say a single bad word about my new BFF ( best friend forever). Paris, you rock.

The following news video includes Paris’ response video.

Satire, the Obamas, and the New Yorker

I’ve been reading comments again. I mention them because what I’ve read in comments on blogs, AOL journals, and news stories on the Internet, influences my take on the cover of the upcoming issue of New Yorker magazine, due to be released on July 21, 2008.

People whom I like, with whom I exchange comments and e-mails, continue to write things like, “I’m frightened by Barack Obama,” “Isn’t he a Muslim?,” “Michelle Obama is a racist,” “She hates white people,” “His middle name is Hussein,” (true, but I think that the comment is meant to suggest something more sinister), etc.

I try to understand what motivates these comments. Don’t worry, I haven’t labeled anyone a racist; I don’t toss that label about lightly. I’ve personally experienced enough racism in my lifetime to recognize it clearly, and I don’t believe in crying wolf. Besides, a true racist doesn’t need anyone to tell him or her that he/ she is a racist.

I really mean it when I say that these comments or variations thereof are written by people with whom I enjoy exchanging ideas and who I think come from a place of sincerity in expressing their concerns. Please don’t misunderstand. I don’t share their concerns and I don’t understand them. They don’t have any basis in fact, but nonetheless, I do get that they weigh heavily on people’s minds. I’ve even sent private emails to a few, asking them to explain to me, in detail, the basis of their fears and beliefs. So far, no one has done so.

By the way, I don’t question anyone’s right to select the candidate of their choice, I’m just dismayed by the persistence in clinging to beliefs that are grounded in misinformation and blatant lies. Dislike any candidate because you don’t support his/her politics or beliefs but for heaven’s sakes, don’t base your decision on some emotional belief that a candidate represents some dark, evil force. Hell, I’m not even afraid of GWB, and he’s done some pretty scary stuff in the last eight years.

Just for the record: Barack Obama is not now, nor has he ever been a Muslim; you may not like his former pastor, Reverend Jeremiah Wright, but he was the pastor of the Christian Church to which the Obama family belonged for 20 years. Michelle Obama did not make a racist comment about hating white people or white America, what she said was “…for the first time in my adult life I am proud of my country because it feels like hope is finally making a comeback.” I’ve said the same thing and I meant it from the bottom of my 53-year-old heart. I’m proud of how far this country has come in my lifetime. Having grown up with legal restrictions on where I could sit, eat, go to the bathroom and get a drink of water in a public place, I am awed that a man with African heritage may possibly become president of these United States, and that he has gotten where he is by appealing to a diverse cross section of the American people. I don’t even know what to say about Barack Hussein Obama’s given name. I confess that I find it hard to believe that anyone could seriously fear anyone based on the person’s name. My first name, Sheria, is an alternative spelling for the Sharia, which is the name of the body of Islamic religious law. Anyone trembling in their shoes yet?

Which brings me to the New Yorker cover, (bet you thought that I would never get there). The magazine has released a statement about the controversial cover,

‘In a statement Monday, the magazine said the cover “combines a number of fantastical images about the Obamas and shows them for the obvious distortions they are….The burning flag, the nationalist-radical and Islamic outfits, the fist-bump, the portrait on the wall? All of them echo one attack or another. Satire is part of what we do, and it is meant to bring things out into the open, to hold up a mirror to prejudice, the hateful, and the absurd. And that’s the spirit of this cover,” the New Yorker statement said.’

I believe the statement; the New Yorker is known for its use of satire and for its liberal leanings, two of the things that I like about the magazine (surely, by now you know that I am a flaming liberal and proud of it). However, I wish that they had thought about it a bit more. As a former English teacher, I’m pretty certain that satire is not a form of literary expression that most people get. When Jonathan Swift’s satirical essay, “A Modest Proposal,” was first published in 1729, it was met with great outrage by many who didn’t perceive the satirical tone of the piece in which Swift proposes that the Irish poor ease their economic woes by selling their young children to the wealthy to be eaten as a great delicacy. Swift writes: “A young healthy child well nursed, is, at a year old, a most delicious nourishing and wholesome food, whether stewed, roasted, baked, or boiled; and I make no doubt that it will equally serve in a fricassee, or a ragout.”

Before you get all excited, he didn’t mean it; he was using his writing to comment on the hypocrisy of the government in blaming the poor for their own plight. He wanted to point out the inhumanity of allowing families to starve while the wealthy had an excess of food, goods, and luxuries. Swift wanted the reader to find his position appalling enough to act, to call for reform, to do something about the problem. This tradition of satire dates back to the great tradition of Roman satire, and echoes the writings of Horace and Juvenal.

However, I digress. The problem that I have with the New Yorker cover is quite simple, far too many people will miss the magazine’s stated intent entirely. They won’t read the accompanying stories. The cover will merely reinforce the misinformation that they already believe. Most people’s familiarity with satire is limited; the unit that I did on satire was always the most confusing for my students. In particular, visual satire often leaves many people totally confused.

I also find the cover insulting to Michelle Obama. I really can’t recall any presidential candidate’s wife being subjected to this type of depiction in the past. Maybe I’m just a touchy black woman, but in every hierarchical ranking in this country, whether it is regarding wages earned or marriage potential, black women always come in dead last. If you’re a black woman who speaks your mind, you are labeled difficult or the really big one–intimidating. Early in my teaching career, I had the following exchange with a colleague.

“Sheria, I just find you intimidating.”

Me: “Have I ever threatened to slap you?”

“No, I didn’t say that, just that I find you intimidating.”

Me: “Tell you what, when I threatened to slap you, that’s when I’m trying to intimidate you, otherwise, you have nothing to worry about.”

Sometimes a woman gets tired of being called intimidating.

Alas, the cat is already out of the bag and and the cover cannot be undone. I have to decide if I want to read the comments that are already being generated by the news coverage about the cover. I should know better but I can’t resist. Intimidating? No. Inquisitive? Yes.

My Vice Presidential Aspirations

I’ve decided to help my country. I was inspired by my blogami, Marc, to engage in my patriotic duty and offer myself as Barack Obama’s running mate. Of course, I have some strong competition from Marc. Before you go any further with reading about my qualifications, mosey over to Marc’s blog and read his entry for today, Pros and Ex-Cons. I’m still recovering from the time that I spent rolling on the floor and laughing after reading it. He challenges his readers to also complete his meme on the pros and cons of your qualifications to be the Democratic vice-presidential candidate. After you check out Marc’s list, complete the meme by writing your own list of the pros and cons of your qualifications to be VP and be certain to leave a link letting Marc know about your entry. Oh, and don’t forget to come back and read my list.

1. I’ve never been a stripper. No one will be crawling out of the woodwork with video of me doing the full monty. (Can women do a full monty or do you call it something else?)

2. I’ve also never hired the services of a prostitute. I have gone across state lines with men but I’ve never paid them to come with me. Double entendre intended.

3. My friend Marc is willing to sleep with any gay Republican who agrees to vote Democratic. He said so in his blog. He also said that I would sleep with any straight Republican who agrees to vote Democratic, but I have my standards. Only if he’s tall, good looking, and hot will I sacrifice myself. However, no money will exchange hands. See pro #2.

4. I can deliver the southern vote. I’ve read Gone With the Wind multiple times; not only do I want to be Scarlett O’Hara, hell, sometimes I am Scarlett. I know all the ways to use y’all in a sentence and I know exactly where “down the road a fur piece” is, and I can locate “over yonder” on a map. In addition, I’ve drunk many an RC Cola after placing peanuts in the bottle.

5. I like to wear red. Red is a power color; it also photographs well. I will be prepared for the many photographic opportunities that are an ongoing part of the VP’s job. It will also make it easier for the Secret Service agents to keep track of me in a crowd, although it could be a negative if I have to dodge any sniper fire in Bosnia.

1. I sort of stalked a man when I was in college. Oh come on, don’t tell me that you and your best friend have never staked out some guy’s room to see if he’s seeing that slut who came on to him at the floor party last night?

2. I once wrote erotica for the enjoyment of a man with whom I was in a relationship. (I was following in the footsteps of Anais Nin.) He may still have copies of it and for all I know, by now, he could be a McCain supporter.

3. Back in the 1980s, I had a membership in a video club. I can’t recall the name, but it had a wide collection of foreign films and art house stuff that was somewhat adult in nature. I’ve seen the unexpurgated version of Guccione’s Caligula.

4. I am not a morning person. No breakfast meetings with foreign dignitaries before 10:00 am.

5. I don’t play golf. I can see no point in trudging around in the sun trying to hit a little white ball into a little hole. I totally don’t get the traps. Someone should smack the architects who build sand traps and water holes into the golf course; they should know better!

Of course, every candidate needs a theme song. Inspired by a recent post by Marc, I’ve selected Whitney Houston’s version of “I’m Every Woman.” It’s not a political song, but it’s got a great beat. I figure that I could start each campaign appearance with a few dance moves.

I’m Every Woman
Whatever you want
Whatever you need
Anything you want done baby
I’ll do it naturally
Cause I’m every woman
Its all in me
Its all in me

(chorus 1): I’m every woman
It’s all in me
Anything you want done baby
I do it naturally

(chorus 2): I’m every woman
It’s all in me
I can read your thoughts right now
Every one from a to z

I can cast a spell
Of secrets you can tell
Mix a special brew
Put fire inside of you
Anytime you feel danger or fear
Instantly I will appear, cause

(chorus 1)

Oh, I can sense your needs
Like rain on to the seeds
I can make a rhyme
Of confusion in your mind
And when I comes down to some good old fashioned love
I got it
I got it
I got it, got, got it, baby, baby, baby

(chorus 1 & 2)

I ain’t braggin
Cause I’m the one
Just ask me
Ooh, and it shall be done
And don’t bother
To compare
I got it

I’m every woman (repeat till fade)
I’m every woman (repeat till fade)

Don’t forget to do your own meme with your five reasons why you should be vice president and five reasons against the idea. Y’all drop by Marc’s place and leave him a link.

Embracing Hope: Why Obama Rocks My World

The world of my youth was a world of separation. The railroad tracks separated our town into black and white. There were two libraries, the Wilson County Public Library and the Wilson County Negro Library. Everyone ate barbecue from Parker’s but my mother had to go to the back door to pick up our order; only white people were allowed to enter the front door and sit in the dining room and eat. The train station had two waiting rooms, one for whites and one for coloreds. The one for whites was bigger, brighter, and cleaner. In facilities where there was no separate area for us, the signs read, “no colored allowed,” or “white only.” There were even two hospitals. I don’t recall the name for the white hospital but the colored hospital was called Mercy. These are my memories of growing up as a colored child in Wilson, North Carolina.

I was born in 1955; I turned eighteen in March 1973. The public school system in Wilson ignored the court ordered integration that came from the Brown decision in 1954, and it was 1971 before the school system fully integrated. I was in tenth grade. My dad, who had been one of four black men who integrated the Wilson police force in the 1960s, worked a detail at the only high school in the city of Wilson, Fike Senior High. The KKK had set up camp across the street from the Fike to make their opposition to the presence of Negro students at the school perfectly clear. The police were there to maintain order. My dad says that when he first joined the police force, the black officers weren’t allowed to drive patrol cars. He was on the force when Dr. King and then Bobby Kennedy was assassinated. I remember him wearing his riot gear as he went to work. I was thirteen.

Darden, which had been the black high school before integration in 1971, became a school for tenth grade only. All sophomores, Negro and white, attended Darden; all juniors and seniors attended Fike. Darden lost its status as a high school for participation in sports, choral competitions, drama competitions, and all other extracurricular activities. When I began my junior year at Fike, I signed up for chorus. The chorus teacher commented that she had noticed that the Negro students all had a lot of vibrato in their voices and asked us why we sang that way. At Darden, we had sung spirituals, jazz, and R&B as well as some classical pieces. At Fike, the spirituals, jazz, and R&B were not regarded as appropriate music for choral presentations. I dropped chorus and took art instead.

A new employee at my office is also from Wilson. She is my sister’s age, two years younger than I am. She is white. She doesn’t remember any of this. She says that her year at Darden was a lot of fun. She has asked me if my class ever has a reunion. I didn’t have the energy to explain to her why there is no class to have a reunion. There are the black students who attended Darden when it was a high school and the white students who attended Fike. When we integrated, all it really meant was that we attended school in the same buildings.

We never became a class. When we got to Fike for our junior and senior, we were still separate, just in the same buildings. Fike was on the white side of town and the KKK felt that it was on its home turf. It was difficult to build bridges among the students when grown men in white robes and hoods were standing across the street shouting epithets at us every day. It was also common knowledge that some of the armed police officers who were supposed to protect us had white robes and hoods in their closets at home.

I had thought that I was done writing about race. Friends whose opinions I value, have cautioned me that I only upset myself when I write of these things. I had decided to move on to other matters and let it be. However, I’ve come to realize that although they are well meaning, they don’t get it at all. Writing about my experiences, what I know to be true, doesn’t upset me. What upsets me is that so many people want to pretend that these things never happened, that they are some distant echo of reality, that what I know to be true is insignificant. That’s upsetting and something that I refuse to accept.

Why am I thinking of these things now, at this time? Because I am witnessing an amazing revolution, a revolution of heart and mind that I never believed that I would see in my lifetime. I am filled with a deep joy as I contemplate the very real possibility that a man, who has brown skin like mine, may well be the next president of this country, my country that for so long has rejected me and my people. I had long ago accepted that there were wounds to my soul that could not be fully healed, wounds made by bigotry and hate, by an unrelenting message that because of the color of my skin, of the skin of my people, we were inferior. Don’t misunderstand, I never believed that we were inferior but it was far too daunting a task to have to constantly fight against the belief by the larger culture that we were, a belief bolstered by pseudo-scientific claptrap like The Bell Curve.

I’ve been working over time to refrain from admitting to anyone, least of all to myself that at least part of the reason that I support Barack Obama is because he looks like me. I’m done with that. I admire Hillary’s strong female base who have not shied away from admitting that they rallied around her in part because she is a woman, and they identified with her accomplishments as a woman in a male dominated world.

What Barack Obama has done is astounding, in a culture that is in its infancy of letting go of the racial apartheid of a less than 50 years ago, the culture of my youth, a culture that I know not through history but because I lived it. I get misty eyed and I have a lump in my throat just thinking about it. Every time I hear Barack Obama speak, I feel a sense of pride and joy that is intoxicating, and I shed all of those scars born of bigotry and I feel newly born into a world of promise. Finally, I can say with no irony, no sense of fabrication, to a little black baby, “Someday, you may be president.”

I make no apologies for my unabashed support of Barack Obama. I have no more tolerance for those who profess that he scares them, that they worry that he’s going to sell out this country. That’s total nonsense and you’re too ignorant for words to even believe it. If I hear or read one more person assert that he’s a Muslim and that he’s going to help the terrorists destroy the United States, I’m going to scream. And so help me, if I read or hear one more white person say that he is a reverse racist, I’m going to forget that I believe in nonviolence and slap somebody up side the head. By the way, my head was wagging when I wrote that last line.

Barack Obama is a man of principle. He is a man of intelligence. He is the man to lead this country forward on this journey of healing and I’m proud to claim him as my candidate of choice.

As a seventeen year old, I dragged around my guitar in a battered case with peace signs all over it, and sang songs about peace and love, but I was filled with the despair of youth, that the world in which I lived would never “give peace a chance,” nor ever find those “answers blowin’ in the wind.” I thought that the racial division that filled my world would outlast my lifetime. My heart cried for the ongoing list of martyrs–Emmett Till, Medgar Evers, Jonathan M. Daniels, James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, Michael Schwerner, King, JFK, Bobby….

The Civil Rights Memorial that stands in front of the Southern Law Poverty Center includes the names of many of the people who risked and lost their lives in the pursuit of justice. I visited the memorial in August 1993. I recall my visit very clearly, because it was on that trip that I decided to go to law school. The memorial is black granite. It bears the names of the martyrs on a large disc in front of a curved wall that bears a favorite line of Dr. King’s, “Until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.” A steady stream of water bubbles out of the disc and washes over its surface, and water cascades down the curved wall. When I visited the memorial back in 1993, I sat and stared at it for a long time and I cried, not so much for the dead, but for the living because I had no hope that we were going forward and I feared that their deaths had been in vain. I am allowing myself to believe that I was wrong. I am engaging in the audacity of hope, and it feels really good.

Below is a poem that I wrote after viewing the civil rights memorial in Montgomery, Alabama.

Memorial in Montgomery
casting long shadows in the afternoon sun
the wall is smooth, black
warm to the touch

the water falls down like healing rain
slides, swirls
drains away
washes clean…

close by, rising from the earth
stands the remembrance of struggle
a litany of the martyred
finite circle of sorrow and joy

cross over the river Jordan
fall down, fall down
like the walls of Jericho
like the walls of Jericho

dark mirror of tears take me home
wash my heart in justice
bathe my soul in peace
fall down, fall down
like healing rain

The Caffeine Entry

Imagine if you will, a short, pleasingly plump, female hamster with adorable curly twists, running non-stop on a wheel for two weeks straight. Imagine that said hamster, having jumped off the treadmill for a brief respite, is now doing a happy dance and singing “Hallelujah.”

Let me be clear about something; I am very lucky to have a job that I find exciting, never boring, and intellectually stimulating; however, that doesn’t mean that on occasion I don’t want to scream poor, poor pitiful me as I slog through 50-plus hour work weeks when the state legislature is in session. North Carolina has a biennial legislature, so the current session is the 2007-2009 session. Every other year is a short session to make needed adjustments to the two-year budget passed in the previous year. This year is the short session which means that it did not begin until May and that the session will most likely end at the end of June or July.

Consequently, all of the legislators have been in a bill filing frenzy and I, and my colleagues, have been running on that little hamster wheel trying to write and publish, on a daily basis, an analysis of each and every bill that is filed. My typical work day has been 11 hours with one exceptionally long day coming in at 12.5 hours.

Okay, enough whining, I have a journal entry to write. The only problem is that so much has happened in the past few weeks that I can’t settle down on what topic that I want to address. Of course part of my inability to focus on a topic is that I’m buzzed on caffeine. (My sister reads all of my journal entries so this message is to her: it was an accident!)

I’m supposed to avoid caffeine because I have a wacky heart arrhythmia known as atrial fibrillation. My A-fib is classified as chronic which means that although medication helps, my heart does not stay in a regular sinus rhythm. My cardiologist recommends that I stay away from caffeine, as it is a stimulant. I am pretty diligent about doing so, although I cheat two or three times a year and have a piece of chocolate but I don’t drink caffeinated beverages at all.

Last week, I stopped by the grocery store to pick up some decaf coffee beans. Today I had a craving for iced coffee. As I was pouring the beans out of the dark brown bag into my little coffee grinder, I had this nagging feeling that I was missing something but I couldn’t figure out what it was. I filled my very large insulated mug halfway with the coffee (made very strong to avoid dilution by the ice of the coffee flavor), added non-dairy creamer and two packs of equal, then added ice.

The first really large cup was so good that I had a second. Then I started feeling weird, little flutters in my chest, slight nausea and some mild dizziness. I decided that I was dehydrated and drank more iced coffee. Finally my brain caught up with that nagging feeling that I had when I was making the coffee.

“Sheria, what color bag does the decaf coffee that you always purchase come in?”

(I often have discussions with myself, doesn’t everyone?)

Self, “Green.”

Other self, “And what color is the bag that you used to make your coffee today?”

Self, “Brown. Oops!”

So here I sit, having had two and one-half large mugs of iced and highly caffeinated coffee. I promise you that I am not in danger of dying but I will be up until the wee hours of the morning. I’m dosing myself with plain old water in the hope of somehow defusing the caffeine high that I’m currently on, but I’m still buzzing like a bee on steroids.

Consequently, I can’t seem to settle on one thing to write about–there’s Hillary and Barack, Princess Beatrice and the British tabloids, the emails that I keep getting about French porn, or the advice on bathroom etiquette that my sister sent me earlier this week.

I just paused to read an email from a friend and was inspired by his comparison of Hillary Clinton to Evita Peron to create my own little vision of Hillary channeling Evita Peron. Of course, as I’m high on caffeine and doing the hamster dance, what began as a simple parody of “Don’t Cry for Me Argentina,” turned into a little video project. The lyrics are pasted below the video. You’ll have to wait until another day for the French porn and the bathroom etiquette tips.

Hillary’s Song
Don’t cry for me, my America
I’ll never, ever leave you
All through Bill’s wild days,
and my mad existence
I’ve kept my promise
To go the distance