Monthly Archives: March 2008

obama: a more perfect speech

Dear Readers,

So I go back to Oakland, CA, where I once lived, and dropped by my old apartment building, to see who I could see.  My boy Erick is at work, but he left me a key under the mat.  Gloria, the nice and nosy building manager is home, I ring her bell, she says what she always says when she open the door and its me, her voice high and weathered, a warm cackle, “I always know its you because I look through the door window and I can never see who it is, I can never see you!”  

That’s because I still ring her doorbell like how I used to when I lived next door to her, ring, then get my lean on the stucco wall between our doors, waiting patiently.  I do it the same way now because I love knowing that there’s this apartment building on a little slope in Oakland, where a white woman in her 60’s is going to greet me how she always greets me. 

I ring her bell and move out her field of vision now just because its such a gift to have pushed down roots on Montecito Ave, just up from the gum splattered 7-11, which is just across from the new Whole Foods, my old apartment building where I organized a traveling Christmas party and told all the tenants a heartwarming holiday tale from off the dome, that building is less than one block away from the most perfect cherry tree, its blooming right now in hushed violets and lip parting pinks, a vision of spring, and all you have to do it cross the street to get to Children’s Fairyland, where parents clasp hands with children, little ones leaping and chirping like birds, this is Lake Merritt, where trees cry sap down wood tongues back to me, I came back to see, how home one of my homes can still be. 

I walk into Gloria’s spot, she hands me a sherry and we start talking about Obama’s state of race in the nation speech.  She was taken.  I was listening. 

The speech was called: A More Perfect Union.

This is my take on Obama’s speech, with quotes from him (in italics), and quotables from yours truly, Naxal, political prophet with All the News That’s Fit to Flip. 

March 26, 2008: A More Perfect Speech

words like kindle

start the fire 

citizen, we the people, america, an improbable expiriment in democracy

i grew up indian on california land, neighbors filipino and mexican 

si se puede means yes we can

fix lowrider classics, cook pansit, and light diwali candles on the same block

improbable expiriment in democracy

family tree, half america, half mockery

in no other country on earth is my story even possible

cept for all of europe and those places refugees run to

uk, sweden, spain, france

come on people

obama lets dance

it was the india trip of 1999 that i realized i was proud to be born and raised

cut, chopped, and braised

american

for better and worse

lilke my parents, like my education, like not being black or white, like beauty, like this verse is

seared into my genetic makeup, the idea that this nation is more than the sum of its parts, that out of many we are truly one

cliche’s are hella fun

but don’t elevate

just keep sedate, children’s fingers, triggers, guns

too black or not black enough

obama i like this beat

i gots to put it on ya

her name was sonia

foster kid, mixed black and white

annouced real loud

we fighting after school

im the

bitch you think you black

ho you act too white

im the

muslim when i wear a headwrap

latina when my mouths dark red

indian when i remember

you can see me

because its the american democracy

im waiting by the door

to social citizenship

granted daily, individually 

by we are america

white and black people

a few of whom

open

a view that elevates what is wrong with america above all that we know is right with america

a view that sees all that sees the conflict in the middle east as rooted primarly in the actions of stalwart allies like isreal

instead of emanating from the perverse and hateful ideaologies of radical islam

open 

obama

this can of words

open

obama

a more perfect speech

would not have just dropped an anti-war sound bite to applause

which is political

it would have big upped the muslim people to the narrowing of black and white eyes

which is personal

human we are

the afghani people

the iraqi people

the indian people 

the malaysian people

the palestinian people

the pakistani people

if we are, at all, anywhere

we are also, american

let me take us there

obama is in philadelphia, pa, at constitution center

a u.s. senator explaining himself, his relationships

a jaded citizenry, loving their new suitor already

they finding reasons, tensions, asking him for assurance

instead of just listening to our gut we pepper him with questions

a black u.s. senator

explaining himself

talking about his first days in reverend jeremiah wright’s flock with

the doctor and the welfare mom, the model student and the former gang banger

listen to obama break black america down

the kindness and cruelty, the fierce intelligence, and the shocking ignorance, the struggles and successes, the love and yes, the bitterness and biases that make up the black experience in america

from the blood soaked flag 

obama wrung out nuanced tales of white america

his white grandmother, grandfather, a white campaign organizer named ashley, the micheal moore factory worker, watching his job go oversees

opportunity comes to be seen as a zero sum game, your dreams come at my expense

these people are part of me

am i a part of you too?   

do unto others as we would have them do unto us, brothers keeper, sisters keeper

we must combat the synicism that those kids who dont look like us are some one elses problem

the children of america are not those kids, they are our kids

those kids who do not look like us are wearing clothes we have been taught to fear

clothes you got “caught” wearing

the gladiator crowd raises their eyes from the tv war

goes wild 

look at obama wearing muslim clothes

look at obama distancing himself from any muslim connection

a more perfect speech

we havent heard in decades

a more perfect speech

would have embraced all the browns

between black and white

*

Stay tuned for more.

Peace,

N/rs

Advertisements

Spitzer Sex Scandal, Economy Off the Handle: Imagine A World

Dear Readers,  

The newsies are frothing at the mouth, sex scandal, money trouble, what more could a paper tryna sell copies want from the narcissistic U.S. world?  More importantly, what more does the reading public need from its narrative shapers?  Imagine.     

John Lennon and Yoko Ono pictures cover the Arts section of today’s New York Times.  Him, inspired by her, the band, their travels, what did them Liverpool cats leave us with?  Imagine

    A Fond Look at Lennon’s ‘Lost Weekend’       

The Beatles left us a legacy of songs for the Q train riding father and his three young sons “Ladies and Gentlemen, we don’t mean to bother you but we are trying to get some dinner tonight,” guitar, tambourine, little hands on little drums, their repetoire solid Beatles, the father and eldest son wrench high soul, hope’s foal, gut mending, bell toll, ear beaming harmony.  Imagine.  

I seen these cats twice so far.  They bring something moving to the tired quiet, black clad subway.  This family manifests an outloud festival of sound, the legacy of poverty stirred into the legacy of song.  Imagine So that’s our work today, dear reader, know the news and Imagine A World.

March 12, 2008  

Imagine A World.   Spitzer gets caught with his pants down around cloud 9/he says the fault was all mine/I had the sex industry all wrong/these whores are business women/thousands of years strong/courteseans/healing like songs/selling soul by the hour/all night long/the people feel his truth/Clark Kent in a Gotham City phone booth/even Superman would get uncouth/in this day and age of no youth/says the pubic/we forgive ourselves so we forgive you/and the establishment vendetta against you too/and we expect you to step down/take a break/and heal this through/with your family,     

Imagine A World.  Water gets tested/traces of anti-depressants nationwide water supplies/ we gettin doses out our sinks/no way to choose/no time to think/feds plus drug and water companies come clean/share their motives/means/sell their minks/liquidate war stocks/spread honey over the whole flock/let us tell the public what we do/let us honor democracy over profit/the masses over the few, 

Imagine A World. Recession hits/the dollar dives/another federal bailout/symptom curing/band aid/stock market keeps its game face/in Washington and on Wall St. suits ask themselves why the superpower race/take time to get braced/for the message on the horizon/America in the mirror connecting dots like Verizon/striving is a true place to get wise in/these first world good economic times are hypnotizing/criminalizing/guilty by default/corporate investors stop gambling/public karma mangling/and face the future honestly/valiantly/us against them vanity/gone like the morning fog/over the San Francisco Bay/the red Golden Gate gleams towards an ocean of equality/a planet bustling hustling and loving already/enough/for everybody/already,       

Imagine A World.  

*  

Thank you for reading, keep laughing in the face of it all, and stay tuned for more. 

Peace, N/rs  

Whose Truth Matters Most: Benazir Bhutto and Black on Black Crime

 Dear Readers,

Whose Truth matters Most?

Do Christian lives matter more than Muslim lives?

Does U.S. on Muslim violence matter more than Muslim on Muslim violence?

Does your Person of Color identity matter more than your identity as a Worker?

Does the success of Capitalism matter more than the success of Democracy?

Does the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr’s matter more than the assassination of Benazir Bhutto?

Do Target Populations matter more to non-profit organizers than Friends?

Does Hip Hop Now matter more than Hip Hop History?

Is it Talk or Walk that distinguishes Dictatorship from Democracy?

Does the President matter more than the Citizenry?

Does What Happened to You matter more than What Happened to Me? 

Whose Truth matters Most?

Dear Readers,

It’s the day after Ohio and Texas rang in their votes for Senator Clinton.  The presidential primaries are heating back up.  I might even keep watching past half-time.  Did you know that, according to the New York Times, Clinton and Obama each ran around 1400 political ads a day in Ohio and Texas?  What does it mean to “choose” in this candidate-as-product atmoshphere? 

See if the candidates are product, then we are consumed consumers as usual, legal labyrinthed from perceiving the corporate producer-sponsored-candidate as a person to whom real questions can be and must be posed.  As a coveted citizenry (“citizenry,” here, defined open and broad like a good, wood handled umbrella over all those who work to keep this country and its under-liable corporations and its over-liable people afloat), what are our most important, least asked questions? 

How bout these: In this hot, watched race, who is Not an establishment backed candidate?  Which candidate is willing to cede the overly accumulated power that most agree, currently lies greedily in the executive branch?   

Dear Readers,  

I’ve just begun reading Benazir Bhutto’s last work, a political work of non-fiction called, “Reconciliation: Democracy, Islam, and the West.”  She emailed her final edits to the book the morning of the day she was assasinated.  It is a must read.  In “Reconciliation,” Bhutto takes a look at brother on brother, sister on sister, Muslim on Muslim violence, violence within the religious family, “sectarian” violence.   

Bhutto’s stunner analysis of sectarian violence takes it in from multiple angles, from the murdermurdermurder-killkillkill kind of violence, to the state led “i Said, are you down with Us or Them” silencing of cultural acheivements kind of violence, to the we the people are too raw and too afraid to look at ourselves in the mirror kind of violence.  She acknowledges the divide and conquer influence of colonization, *and* moves on to ask that folks be less concerned with the conquering other and more concerened about how we are conquering ourselves.

Applying her multi-layered analysis of the under-reported, detrimental affect of sectarian violence to the American discussion of Black on Black crime helped me appreciate the depth of what Bhutto is getting at. 

One, it’s hard to get down with the Black on Black crime discussion because it’s a sensitive issue, over-reported on by outsiders, generally divorced of any divide and conquer, the intended legacy of domination context. 

Two, Black on Black crime is generally housed in physical violence terms and rarely talked about in economic terms (an economic violence discussion would include the corporate modeled aquisition of wealth by some powerful members of the Black elite at the expense of the Black working poor), or cultural terms (a cultural discussion would include the appropriation of culture emanating from the streets by the elite for purposes of profit and consolidated power), thereby underreporting on issues that matter to the community.In “Reconciliation,” Bhutto flips the lens on her own people, the Pakistani people, the Muslims of the world.   

You decide for yourself if her words make sense to you.  Here’s an excerpt of her book that lays out her stance better than I can; 

(Excerpt from Benazir Bhutto’s last book, “Reconciliation:Islam, Democracy, and the West.”)

“And now there is Iraq. One billion Muslims around the world seem united in their outrage at the war, damning the deaths of Muslims caused by US military intervention without UN approval. But there has been little if any similar outrage against the sectarian Iraqi civil war, which has led to far more casualties.

Obviously (and embarrassingly), Muslim leaders, masses and even intellectuals are quite comfortable criticising outsiders for the harm inflicted on fellow Muslims. But there is deadly silence when they are confronted with Muslim-on-Muslim violence.

Even in Darfur, where there is an actual genocide being committed against a Muslim population, there has been a remarkable absence of protests, few objections, and no massive coverage on Arab or south Asian television.

We are all familiar with the data that show an increasing contempt for and hostility to the West in Muslim communities from Turkey to Pakistan. The war in Iraq is cited as a reason. The situation in Palestine is given as another reason. So-called decadent western values are often part of the explanation. It is so much easier to blame others for our problems than to accept responsibility ourselves.

The colonial experience has obviously had a major impact on the Muslim psyche. But what outsiders did in the past does not exclusively account for the quality of Muslim life today.

There is a rush to condemn foreigners and colonisers, but there is an equally weighty unwillingness within the Muslim world to look inwards and to identify where we may be going wrong ourselves. 

It is uncomfortable but nevertheless essential to true intellectual dialogue to point out that national pride in the Muslim world is rarely derived from economic productivity, technical innovation or intellectual creativity. Those factors seem to have been part of the Persian, Mughal and Ottoman past but not the Muslim present. Now we see Muslim pride always characterised in the negative, derived from notions of ‘destroying the enemy’ and ‘making the nation invulnerable to western assault’.

Such toxic rhetoric sets the stage for the clash of civilisations between Islam and the West every bit as much as do western military or political policies. It also serves as an opiate that keeps Muslims angry against external enemies and allows them to pay little attention to the internal causes of intellectual and economic decline.

Reality and intellectual honesty demand that we look at both sides of the coin.” 

(End of excerpt from, “Reconciliation,” authored by the late, great Benazir Bhutto)

Thank you for tuning in, come back soon, I post at least once a week for your political poetry viewing pleasure.

Peace,

N/rs