Below is a statement by President-elect Barack Obama concerning the three day seige by terrorists in Mumbai, India:
“Michelle and I send our deepest condolences to the loved ones of the American citizens who lost their lives in the outrageous terrorist attacks in Mumbai. Our thoughts and prayers are with them, and with all who have been touched by this terrible tragedy.
“These terrorists who targeted innocent civilians will not defeat India’s great democracy, nor shake the will of a global coalition to defeat them. The United States must stand with India and all nations and people who are committed to destroying terrorist networks, and defeating their hate-filled ideology.
“There is one president at a time. I will continue to closely monitor the situation on the ground in Mumbai, and am grateful for the cooperation of the Bush Administration in keeping me and my staff updated. We fully support the Bush Administration’s efforts to protect American citizens and assist the government of India during this tragic time,” said President-elect Obama.
At this time, 160 people have been killed since Wednesday night. Five were Americans. Three terrorists have been killed in a police security operation according to authorities, as the seige comes to a tragic conclusion.
Did you miss “The Real Housewives of Atlanta Reunion Show” Tuesday night? Well, lets just say that the reunion was better than the series! Okay. I admit that I was hooked on all of the back-stabbing, double-talking, spend freaks that are Kim, Sheree’, NeNe, Lisa and DeShawn. Some say the show was fake and heavily scripted. That is certainly possible. But I do believe that about 75% of “The Real Atlanta Housewives” was real.
I mean, really. Who can fake the fiasco that was Sheree’s birthday party and fashion show? Remember NeNe’s facial expression upon learning that even though Sheree had personally invited her to the birthday party, somehow NeNe had been left off the guest list and was turned away at the door by security? Who could possibly fake that moment? LOL! Well, the Reunion was everything that I anticipated plus more!
The one burning question that I wanted answered was who spilled the beans about NeNe’s drunken, hilarious song about Kim? Which one of the “Housewives” couldn’t wait to spread some hot juicy malicious gossip? In the limo during NeNe’s funny song about non-singing wanna be sensation Kim, were Lisa and Ed Hartwell, DeShawn and Eric Snow, and NeNe’s better half Greg. Which one ran directly to Sheree’?
Answer: Lisa! Yeah, that was why Lisa was playing the role of peace-keeper every chance she got! She was responsible for the atomic bomb that blew up NeNe and Kim’s friendship. Not to say that the relationship wasn’t on the way down the tubes in the first place! Lisa just pushed ir further along. At the Reunion, Lisa tried to act like Kim was lying about the role she played in the soap opera ’she say she say’ by deflecting and calling Kim a habitual liar and back-stabber. Well, it appears that Lisa is capable of doing a little back-stabbing herself. Hmmm.
Speaking of Kim…what is that woman on? First she said that the reason that she wears wigs and weaves is because she had cancer and all of her hair fell out. Then in the next breath she claimed that she didn’t have cancer after all; doctors said she had an undisclosed illness. But apparently Kim is fine now and wears a weave…still. I’m a sista, I have worn a weave, piece or wig many a time. Why was Kim’s hair a source of discussion anyway when NeNe, Sheree’ and DeShawn were wearing hundreds of dollars of weave on their heads? It was a ridiculous discussion, but the liar that NeNe and Lisa accused Kim of being was verified.
What was up with DeShawn? All she did was sit on the couch looking like she didn’t want to be there or involved. I suppose she really wanted to be off somewhere shopping for jewelry or something. I am thoroughly surprised that DeShawn was let off the hook for her shenanigans! Can anyone forget her introductory statement at the beginning of the show every week? “I always knew that I was destined for greatness?” Or how about what DeShawn said when she entered her new home? “I always knew I was going to be somebody.’ DeShawn Snow obviously has self-esteem issues she hasn’t dealt with. How can having lots of money turn you into a ‘somebody’? I’m not the wife of an athlete with mega bucks and a 15,000 sq. ft mansion. Does that make me a nobody? That fundraiser was a bust because the one thing that DeShawn Snow had forgotten from her time of growing up a nobody in Detroit, is to be about the paper! The purpose of a fundraiser is to raise FUNDS. You do not open your million dollar mansion to the public for FREE and expect to stack major Benjamens! Most of the folks that came to DeShawn’s fundraiser were broke Joe’s, nosy neighbors and sistas on the prowl for a comeup! When you forget and belittle your roots, unfortunately you miss out on the meaning of the incrediable life lessons you were taught. Now that Eric Snow has retired from the NBA and is doing his thing as a sports commentator, that guaranteed money that DeShawn was bragging about to Lisa, is no longer a fact of life. I guess she and Lisa can now relate. Budget Time!
The icing on the cake was Dwight, ya’ll!! Dwight, billed as NeNe’s ‘Gay Boyfriend’, was just his delightfully intuitive self. Always fashionable and decked in the best couture, Dwight was deemed the ‘sixth Housewife’. Of course, the ever wise Dwight told the five ladies that all of the bickering and hating was simply not classy and that they are better than that. Love the extensions Dwight!!
All in all, “The Real Housewives of Atlanta” was a pretty cool experience. Rocky at times and a hoot at others, the sistas of Atlanta “Housewives” should be proud to be a part of the Bravo franchise. I hear that a second season is planned and Kim’s ‘Big Poppa’ will be making an appearance. Yeah…Right! Oh! Can’t wait for that cd to drop, Kim! LOL! With your non-singing self! I bet Dallas Austin didn’t dare think about producing a single track for Kim! Do you all remember Dallas’ expression when he heard Kim sing for the first time? LOL! Priceless!
Oh, and SHE by Sheree’ is supposed to be on the runway Fall ’09. Hope that Sheree’ learned her lesson! Hiring a lazy seamstress that had zero sewing skills. The trash that person produced! Why didn’t Sheree have the good sense to check what her seamstress was up to? You know, go over to the seamstress’ home or business and inspect the work. It was HER dream! Why would a self-proclaimed fashionista leave her vision to chance? What a laugh! And by the way Sheree’, TRUE iconic designers DO sketch their designs! Some even know HOW to sew! Saying on the Reunion show that designers don’t sketch their work is false. Do your homework! Now, celebrities who turn to the fashion world to expand their wallets may not. Kimora and Russell have a team of designers to come up with sketches and designs. Yet, Karl Lagerfeld, Calvin Klein, Coco Chanel, Yves Saint Laurent, Gianni Versace and others were true artists and visionaries, able to take a mental picture and transfer it to paper. Then develop a visual in the form of a sample.
That little lost fashion venture cost about $100,000! Sheree’ could have used some of that wasted money enrolling herself into a fashion institute! That would have saved her or should I say, her soon to be ex-husband some loot. How much you wanna bet that that nice handsome chunk of blowed change will figure prominently in their divorce battle?
This cover is an outrage and every African American in America should protest The Advocate’s December issue. Why? It is down right insulting for any minority group at this stage in the game to refer to another minority group in this fashion. When I first saw the cover, I wanted to give the editors at The Advocatethe benefit of the doubt. The terminology ‘new black’ has been under the radar for years now. You hear the phrase used here and there. In the fashion world, designers use this terminology when referring to the color black as it denotes a certain cutting-edge in fashion demagoguery.
But The Advocateis clearly using the term ‘new black’ to imply that the LGBTQ community are now the scapegoats of oppression, inhuman treatment, and seen as second-third class citizens, virtually replacing African Americans whom seemingly have ‘reached the Promise Land’ and happen to be the poster child for a movement that was overwhelmingly successful. Using the term ‘new black’ implies that us black folk have risen beyond our former status as the descendants of slaves, we have over come!
That is laughable. America has elected its’ first African American President, but check out how long that took? Take a look at the major cities in the U.S and notice African Americans and how they are fairing. Michigan is the most racist state in the Union and it is greatly acknowledged that this northern state is racial polarized. The public school system is systematically failing African American students and the drop out rate for African American teens between the ages of 14-17 is nearly 60%! A university education is a pipe dream for most African American children and community college PELL grant funding has dwindled to almost nothing. Drug addiction and crime, teen pregnancy, single parenting, HIV/AIDS, and staggering unemployment has created generational ghetto residents.
African Americans are still in this fight. The war is not over. For The Advocateto use such an insulting phrase gives those who don’t know or understand the Civil Rights Movement the impression that the struggle is complete. This can’t be further from the truth. To say that the fury over the passing of Prop 8 has propelled the LGBT community into the role of the ‘new black’ is preposterous to say the least. For years, the LGBTcommunity has equated itself with the Civil Rights Movement, saying that the Civil Rights Movement is really a Human Rights Movement that is inclusive, not exclusive to one particular group of people.
This ideology is an untruth. The Civil Rights Movement was a vehicle to lift African Americans from 20th Century tyranny and modern slavery. The Emancipation Proclamation was a great thing back in 1862. But for many, many years after the Civil War, the Emancipation Proclamation wasn’t worth the paper it was written on. Black folk and entire communities were burned down to the ground. Lynchings were a sport. African American women could still be raped by Caucasian men without these men seeing some type of legal consequence. African Americans couldn’t address Caucasians eye to eye. Our schools were inferior. The list is substantial. African Americans were vilified because of WHO they were and not WHAT they were. The color of our skin dictated the treatment we received.
How can the LGBT community and The Advocate be so insensitive to African Americans? Do they not know our history? We didn’t come to this country because we wanted to take a trip and scout out the land for Africa. America was not a cruise destination stop. Africans were kidnapped from their homes and bought and sold to feed the greed and laziness of an oppressive capitalistic society. We are not here in America by choice. We didn’t ‘come out.’ We were ‘forced out’ of our native land.
The LGBT community’s fight is no way comparable to the fight of African Americans in this country. African Americans understand what the LGBT community are fighting for. Some support it. Others do not. But each group is diverse and unique. You simply can not cut and paste a movement to fit a cause just because there may be one or two similarities.
‘New Black’ is so uncreative and thoughtless. The cover title of The Advocate’s December issue is merit-less and void of any real meaning. It is just another disrespectful shout-out to African Americans. Like the “drinking the Kool-Aide” line. That has its’ origins in Jonestown.
Besides, the term is ‘African American.’ AND…The color black that is used on the page has deep racist and bias connotations. HMMMM…..
November 18, 1978, the world watched in horror as helicopters flew over a makeshift community in the middle of the Guyana jungle. A sinister quilt of various colors lay quietly in the sun. The colors belonged to the victims of The Peoples Temple. The bodies of 909 People’s Temple members decomposed quickly and sadly in the South American sun. Out of the 909 seemingly apparent suicide victims, 234 were children. At the air strip in Port Kaituma, five people lay dead: Rep. Leo Ryan, NBC correspondent Don Harris, NBC sound man Bob Brown, newspaper photographer Greg Robinson and Temple defector Patty Harris. At the Temple House in Lamaha Gardens, Georgetown, People’s Temple member Sharon Amos, kills her three children then herself. In all, 918 human beings perished on November 18, 1978.
These events have come to be known as the Jonestown Massacre.
But why is it that the African American community then and now, refuse to stand still and acknowledge the gravity of what took place that fateful day? Why aren’t African American ministers of the cloth, churches and communities not setting this day aside to remember the tragedy that was the People’s Temple?
The People’s Temple and its’ founder, Rev. Jim Jones, was a predominately African American church. Jonestown itself was 70% African American. The People’s Temple was financially dependent on the Social Security checks that African American seniors provided. Out of the 200 Social Security checks that The People’s Temple received each month, 182 came from African Americans. This religious institution was funded totally by African Americans. Even though African Americans were the lifeline and the work force of Jonestown, they did not make up the administrative hierarchy. Caucasian People’s Temple members made up this elite group. But they, too died on November 18, 1978.
Is it the humiliation or wonder that African Americans of the cloth or the community itself feels that allows us to be silent on this day? More than likely it is the hypocrisy that African American churches exhibit today. If you take a look at some of the biggest African American churches in America today, you will find thousands of African American parishioners giving millions of dollars to their religious institution of choice. These parishioners contribute to the extravagant lifestyles of their leaders. They blindly follow religious leaders that talk the talk but seldom walk the walk.
These religious leaders lead their flock to the poor house while preaching to them about the riches of the Kingdom of Heavens. There are even some churches that make their parishioners pay big money to sit on the main level of the church. For a certain sum, you can have a name plaque on your seat. Some African American churches keep a public record on display of everyone that has or hasn’t tithe. For humiliation purposes, I am sure. On a certain level, these African American churches are doing the exact same thing that Jim Jones did to his followers: robbing them blind in the name of the Lord.
No one really wants to discuss the Jonestown Massacre in the African American community. The ball was dropped thirty years ago by African American so-called leaders and the African American church community. Who called out the U.S government for the blatant mishandling of the victims bodies being transported from South America? The U.S wanted to leave the Jonestown victims in a unmarked jungle grave in Guyana. The U.S also left the victims unattended to on the jungle floor for days until they could decide what to do with them. Only seven autopsies were performed. Two were shotgun victims. This included Jim Jones.
But what about the others? And why were these victims classified as suicide victims and not homicide victims? If this senseless tragedy was labeled what it was, perhaps the victims of Jonestown could have been treated with more humanity instead of becoming a public embarrassment? Could it be that since the majority of the Jonestown victims were African American, the U.S government and its’ officials decided that they were non-entities? Jim Jones was a serial killer. He killed 917 people on November 18, 1978. He is the most notorious serial killer in U.S history! It is simply amazing that African American leaders, politicians, activists and entertainers did not step up to be a voice of their African American brethren. Where was Jesse Jackson then?
African Americans who were poor and without hope flocked to the con of Jim Jones. They were set up for financial profit and ultimate control. Jim Jones took fear and roped it around his parishioners necks tightly. He turned his church into a circus of entertainment and buffoonery! We African Americans fell for it and then Jim Jones led us to the edge of insanity. Why wasn’t there a public outcry by the African American community, especially when Jim Jones started to load African Americans on a plane headed to Guyana? Jim Jones herded African Americans onto planes like Hitler loaded Jews unto trains bound for extermination camps.
The silence is deafening. An entire African American community wiped out without an investigation. There is absolutely no way that every member of the People’s Temple happily drank cyanide laced Kool-Aid humming a happy tune! These people were forced! They were murdered! If one can argue that it was suicide, I’ll give them the adult population of Jonestown. The 234 children? No. These children were murdered. Who are going to speak for the children?
What do we learn from the destruction of an entire African American community? First of all, we learn that African Americans are expendable and do not matter in the scheme of things. Second, self-proclaimed African American leaders and activists aren’t worth the soap box they preach on. Third, African Americans will stubbornly allow themselves to be led into a no-win situation to the death. Perhaps it is this shame that keeps African Americans silent on this day. The shame that deep inside of each and every last one of us, there is a part of us that want to belong to a collective so bad that we are willing to suffer for it.
However, the African American community of Jonestown proved beyond a shadow of the doubt that our basic human need to be accepted and loved can be deeply exploited and used against us.
I remember that week in November. I was 11. What I saw on the news that week was shocking and terrifying. I haven’t forgotten that picture. I haven’t forgotten the children who were my peers. I have not forgotten that the life that I live, they do not.
I remember Jonestown. Do you?
On November 24th, New Yorker magazine will publish a controversial interview given by Prince. It is said by insiders to include Prince’s take on his legacy, music and religious beliefs. Becoming one of Jehovah’s Witnesses about five years ago, Prince has seen his life make a serious 360 degree make-over! Here are some excerpts from that soon to be published article:
So here’s how it is: you’ve got the Republicans, and basically they want to live according to this.” He pointed to a Bible. “But there’s the problem of interpretation, and you’ve got some churches, some people, basically doing things and saying it comes from here, but it doesn’t. And then on the opposite end of the spectrum you’ve got blue, you’ve got the Democrats, and they’re, like, ‘You can do whatever you want.’ Gay marriage, whatever. But neither of them is right.”
When asked about his perspective on social issues—gay marriage, abortion—Prince tapped his Bible and said, “God came to earth and saw people sticking it wherever and doing it with whatever, and he just cleared it all out. He was, like, ‘Enough.’ ”
Reports circulated late today that apparently Prince disputes that last statement above. Sources close to Prince say that the New Yorker writer paraphrased the entire last paragraph and that Prince never said anything close to what was written above. It has also come to light that the writer was told that she could not use a tape recorder for her interview with Prince.
We at The Kaleidoscope Factor believe that Prince DID voice the opinion that was presented. Perhaps those inside of Prince’s camp felt that damage control was necessary being that Prince has enjoyed a huge GLBTQ following over the years. Jehovah’s Witnesses are known for their strict moral adherence to the Bible which includes taking a stand against any form of sexual behavior performed outside of marriage. That is why it is of no stretch of the imagination that Prince may very well have stated indirectly what his religious convictions are.
However, is it plausible to criticize a man for stating his stance in a public forum, for being honest? This is America where we are all entitled to our First Amendment Rights. But sometimes we can all become narrow-minded and hypocritical. Back in the 80′s, Prince shot to stardom by being extremely vocal about sexuality! His extensive catalog of songs has included some of the most explicit, pornographic lyrics the imagination could ever conceive! Who can forget “Darling Nikki”, “Little Red Corvette”, “Lady Cab Driver”, “Erotic City”, “Computer Blue”, “Dirty Mind”, “Nasty Girl”, “Raspberry Beret”, “Cream”, “Sex Shooter”, “International Lover”, and countless others?
But did anybody notice that Prince also had a religious side to him as well? Yes, even then, Prince was traveling to higher spiritual plane. Remember the lyrics to “Purple Rain,” “I Would Die For You”, “Let’s Go Crazy”, “Sign O Times” and “Thieves in The Temple”? Check those songs out and you will find that Prince was saying some deep religious stuff back in the day and nobody noticed it. Maybe this was the case because Prince was a hindrance to himself and the rest of us.
Flash forward to 2008.
Prince continues to make music. But you will not find rated XXX lyrics on his CD’s. Prince makes his ministry public by doing what Jehovah’s Witnesses are known for: knocking on their neighbors doors delivering a helpful spiritual message. It is unfortunate that no one is praising Prince for his radical change. As always, Prince has never wavered on whatever he has set out to do. That is why he has fans, Jehovah’s Witnesses and non Jehovah’s Witnesses that love his work. He is and continues to be true to himself, and not to what others may want him to be.
The New York Post filed this quote about Prince:
The purple-loving pop star tells this week’s New Yorker that since he joined the Christian denomination two years ago, he’s started leaving his gated community to knock on doors and proselytize. “Sometimes people act surprised, but mostly they’re totally cool about it,” says Prince. The “When Doves Cry” singer adds that he sees his conversion as more of “a realization. It’s like Morpheus and Neo in ‘The Matrix.’
America Elected Its’ First African American President. Now What? A Commentary On Where African Americans Go From Here
Editors Note: When the results came in from Ohio, Virginia and Pennsylvania Tuesday, November 4, 2008, it became quite evident that Barack Obama had won the election. President-Elect Barack Obama made history by becoming the first African American to be elected President of The United States. This historical event has serious repercussions and complicated implications for the African American community. The focus of this four part series is to define what exactly the Presidency of Barack Obama means to each segment of the African American community. Part1: African American Men and The Legacy They Share With Barack Obama.
“I’m the man you think you are.” El Hajj Malik Shabazz (Malcolm X)
President-Elect Barack Obama made American and world history by becoming the first African American to become the President of the United States. While this is an amazing achievement for an African American, all African Americans can learn a thing or two from the ascension of Barack Obama. What is it about Barack Obama that sets him apart from other African American men, if anything? Would it be wrong for African American men to study President-Elect Barack Obama’s walk and tailor it to meet their own?
African American men in this country have suffered hundreds of years worth of humiliation, degradation, psychological warfare, racial strive and the systematic stripping of their manhood. Four hundred plus years have passed that has seen African American men treated as “bucks” and cattle, less than human caricatures, and eternal threats against the virtue and sanctity of Caucasian women. Hollywood exploited African American men from its’ inception with the film “Birth of A Nation.” The degrading manner in which African American men were portrayed by the movie industry continued for decades. However, the African American man on screen was a far cry from what African American men were in reality. Still, African American men found it a challenge to live in a society that hated and oppressed them. In the South, after the Civil War, being an African American man was a dangerous thing to be. African American men suffered through daily humiliation by Caucasians which included being talked down to and being treated worse than a second-class citizen. African American men found themselves called ‘uncle’ or ‘boy’ and were treated as inconsequential non-entities. African American men who decided to go against the system and demand basic human rights and liberties were targeted by the KKK or Caucasian mobs to be castrated, tortured, burned alive and hanged from a tree by a rope.
The great migration North for African American men seeking to find equality and employment was a giant step for the African American community. For once in their tragic exsistence in America, African Americans could breathe a sigh of relief and the African American man could be free to dream for himself and his family. Employment opportunities flourished and education lost the illicit forbidden luster that the South created. Still, there were huge obstacles that African American men had to deal with in order to survive in an environment that flowed with an undercurrent of racial hostilities.
Along the way, African American men have plotted a path for the African American community that should be applauded. Frederick Douglass, Nat Turner, Robert Smalls, Booker T. Washington, W.E.B DuBois, Marcus Garvey, Thurgood Marshall, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Medger Evers, Malcolm X and a host of others have held the African American community upon their shoulders. But somehow along the way, progress stalled. The reason could be that the African American community lost a lot of their leaders to violent assassinations and have simply lost faith. Another reason could be that there aren’t any African American leaders that can fit into the shoes of Malcolm X or Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and African Americans are looking for that caliber of leader. Reverend Jesse Jackson, Reverend Al Sharpton and Louis Farrakhan stepped up from time to time to fill that position, but somehow came up short. Perhaps a generation of African Americans benefited from desegregation and Affirmative Action and believed that the American society as a whole was progressing at an acceptable rate and didn’t need the help that the Civil Rights Movement provided.
However, this has proven to be the undoing of the African American community. With such a disconnect and a generation gap growing wider and wider, African American men found themselves at a disadvantage. An entire generation of African American men were shipped off to Vietnam only to return home years later to a country in deep turmoil. African American men couldn’t find employment which translated into fathers not being able to care for their families. Many Vietnam vets returned with a substance abuse habit that had to be maintained. Broken-spirited and wounded mentally and physically, African American men were discarded and virtually invisible. The Reagan Years were the toughest on the African American community and African American men because the unemployment rate in urban cities around the country was ridiculously high. These cities became webs of ghettos filled with drug-abuse and dealers, poverty and criminal activity. This time period fathered children who would grow up amidst crack cocaine’s rule and these would learn the most devastating lessons: Education is a crock, legal employment is a waste of time, and material possessions are the hallmark of being somebody.
So, what can African American men learn from the journey of Barack Obama?
1). President-Elect Barack Obama grew up without a father. But he had a father-figure. His grandfather. Just because a biological father is not present in an African American male’s life, there are always examples of positive African American men in the community. Even in the hood, there are African American men who are holding down employment and taking care of their families. There is absolutely no excuse for a young African American man today to say that he doesn’t have any positive father-figures to look up to. Right within your community are teachers, principals, community organizers and others that are beacons. Seek out your father figures. They don’t always come to you.
2). President-Elect Barck Obama is an educated man from a low to moderate income background. His family didn’t have money to send him to college. He earned his way through having top grades which equals scholarships! An education is the foundation for a stable future. School is the proving ground to life-long learning. African American men should accept that their future depends on being able to comprehend, ascertain and mentally develop the sophisticated skills needed to be employable. School is not just for chumps and fools. It is for EVERYONE. If you liked the polish and classy way President-Elect Barack Obama conducted himself throughout the campaign, know that he didn’t develop that skill by hangin’ out at the local spot, vegetating to the sounds of Souljah Boy, Plies, Lil Wayne, Jeezy, Fifty Cent, Game, or Dj Khalid. President-Barack Obama didn’t learn the art of communication or public speaking from slingin’ rocks, H, and weed in the crack house.
3). President-elect Barack Obama surrounded himself with a team of educated, experienced people that helped him to win the Presidency. Having a support system is always important. African American men who want to succeed need to understand the importance of developing a support network or team of other like-minded individuals who want the same things. When African American men abandon that sense of misplaced loyalty to friends that are involved in illegal activities or just basically come with a negative vibe, African American men will be able to go beyond their expectation level. ‘Boys’ that have been around since elementary school that aspire to immaturity, battery, criminal behavior, laziness, child abandonment and other worthless issues, are not the keys to a productive future.
4). Michelle Obama is the mother to all of President-Elect Barack Obama’s children. What can African American men learn from this? Creating life is a responsibility. African American men need to develop an urgent sense of responsibility to the seeds of life they grow within their loins. Being able to conquer and mate with the woman of your dreams is no feat. Animals do so all the time. For humans, with a built in sense of moral right and wrong, there is a need for community and family. African American men need to examine their own maturity levels and needs before engaging in sexual activity that could create life. African American men have got to start becoming responsible for their own sexual behavior. African American men need to come to a higher intellectual awareness of self and build self-love and pride. An African American man with those qualities will not have children all over the city, but know the importance of choosing the one woman that he would like to start and raise a family with. Of course, relationships sour, but that can never be the excuse for having ten children with eight different women. That era has got to go!
5). President-Elect Barack Obama does not have a criminal record. Why is that important to African American men? A criminal record is an automatic blot on your future. As an African American man, you are already working with one BIG strike. A criminal record makes any positive notes in your life questionable. African American young men should steer clear of illegal activities and friends, family members and associates that participate in them. What about the brothas that are now serving time in prison and jails across the country? Use that time you have in prison to meditate on what led you on the path to being incarcerated. Stop blaming other people for your misfortune. We all know that the criminal justice system is tilted against African American men. Therefore, hanging with your ‘boys’ at the wrong place at the wrong time could land you a ten year bid. There is no excuse for being an innocent bystander. Incarceration is a cess pool of criminal education. Not rehabilitation. If you want to live a different life, take on the challenge! Malcolm X did it! Grab a dictionary and start at ‘aardvark’. By the time you get to ‘Z’, you will feel the weighty power of education transforming your life.
6). Barack Obama had the ‘audacity’ to dream BIG despite what others thought. President-Elect Barack Obama asked his advisers what they thought about him running for the Democratic nomination. The majority of these suggested that he wait another four years. But Obama thought it through and went for it! African American men should never be afraid to have the ‘audacity’ to dream BIG. There is nothing wrong with a healthy dose of confidence. Some of the most prominent African American men in history had a healthy self-esteem and and were self-assured. When you look at President Barack Obama, do you not notice that if there is a shred of doubt in his mind, you would never know it? Besides, African American women are attracted to brothas that are confident and carry themselves this way. That’s confident, not cocky like “I’m the MAN, Look at ME!” We DON’T like that!
These are just some ways that African American men can capitalize on the success of President-Elect Barack Obama and make it their own. If you are an African American man and you have never had a positive role model to look up to, now you have one. Instead of looking to the world of Hip Hop to teach you about manhood, turn the channel on your television to CNN or MSNBC and you will see the true essence of what an African American man can be. Instead of walking around with ostentatious diamond jewelry, pants below the butt with underwear showing and expensive kicks, take a page out of the elegant, smooth way Barack Obama dresses, casually and formal.
If African American men really take the time to examine President-Elect Barack Obama, they will find a deeper connection and appreciation for what he has accomplished. No more excuses! The time for excuses has passed, African American men! You are now on the radar and everyone is watching you to see what YOU are going to do with this opportunity. African American men now have the ability to erase the long, nightmarish history of abuse and degradation that have become ingrained in their psyche. It will take work and effort, but it will be worth it.
The celebration is over. Now it is time to walk in step with a positive example in front of you.
Obama: Thank you very much, everybody. Thank you very much.
This morning, we woke up to more sobering news about the state of our economy. The 240,000 jobs lost in October marks the 10th consecutive month that our economy has shed jobs. In total, we’ve lost nearly 1.2 million jobs this year, and more than 10 million Americans are now unemployed.
Tens of millions of families are struggling to figure out how to pay the bills and stay in their homes. Their stories are an urgent reminder that we are facing the greatest economic challenge of our lifetime, and we’re going to have to act swiftly to resolve it.
Now, the United States has only one government and one president at a time. And until January 20th of next year, that government is the current administration.
I’ve spoken to President Bush. I appreciate his commitment to ensuring that his economic policy team keeps us fully informed as developments unfold. And I’m also thankful for his invitation to the White House.
Immediately after I become president, I’m going to confront this economic crisis head on by taking all necessary steps to ease the credit crisis, help hardworking families, and restore growth and prosperity.
They will help to guide the work of my transition team, working with Rahm Emanuel, my chief of staff, in developing a strong set of policies to respond to this crisis. We discussed in the earlier meeting several of the most immediate challenges facing our economy and key priorities on which to focus on in the days and weeks ahead. Watch Obama lay out his economic plan »
First of all, we need a rescue plan for the middle class that invests in immediate efforts to create jobs and provide relief to families that are watching their paychecks shrink and their life savings disappear.
A particularly urgent priority is a further extension of unemployment insurance benefits for workers who cannot find work in the increasingly weak economy.
A fiscal stimulus plan that will jump-start economic growth is long overdue. I’ve talked about it throughout this — the last few months of the campaign. We should get it done.
Second, we have to address the spreading impact of the financial crisis on the other sectors of our economy: small businesses that are struggling to meet their payrolls and finance their holiday inventories; and state and municipal governments facing devastating budget cuts and tax increases.
We must also remember that the financial crisis is increasingly global and requires a global response.
The news coming out of the auto industry this week reminds us of the hardship it faces, hardship that goes far beyond individual auto companies to the countless suppliers, small businesses and communities throughout our nation who depend on a vibrant American auto industry.
The auto industry is the backbone of American manufacturing and a critical part of our attempt to reduce our dependence on foreign oil.
I would like to see the administration do everything it can to accelerate the retooling assistance that Congress has already enacted. In addition, I have made it a high priority for my transition team to work on additional policy options to help the auto industry adjust, weather the financial crisis, and succeed in producing fuel-efficient cars here in the United States of America.
And I was glad to be joined today by Governor Jennifer Granholm, who obviously has great knowledge and great interest on this issue.
I’ve asked my team to explore what we can do under current law and whether additional legislation will be needed for this purpose.
Third, we will review the implementation of this administration’s financial program to ensure that the government’s efforts are achieving their central goal of stabilizing financial markets while protecting taxpayers, helping homeowners, and not unduly rewarding the management of financial firms that are receiving government assistance.
It is absolutely critical that the Treasury work closely with the FDIC, HUD, and other government agencies to use the substantial authority that they already have to help families avoid foreclosure and stay in their homes.
Finally, as we monitor and address these immediate economic challenges, we will be moving forward in laying out a set of policies that will grow our middle class and strengthen our economy in the long term. We cannot afford to wait on moving forward on the key priorities that I identified during the campaign, including clean energy, health care, education, and tax relief for middle-class families.
My transition team will be working on each of these priorities in the weeks ahead, and I intend to reconvene this advisory board to discuss the best ideas for responding to these immediate problems.
Let me close by saying this. I do not underestimate the enormity of the task that lies ahead. We have taken some major action to date, and we will need further action during this transition and subsequent months.
Some of the choices that we make are going to be difficult. And I have said before and I will repeat again: It is not going to be quick, and it is not going to be easy for us to dig ourselves out of the hole that we are in.
But America is a strong and resilient country. And I know we will succeed, if we put aside partisanship and politics and work together as one nation. That’s what I intend to do.
With that, let me open it up for some questions. And I’m going to start right here with you.
Question: Thank you, Mr. President-elect. I wonder what you think any president can accomplish during their first 100 days in office to turn the economy around? How far can you go? And what will be your priorities on day one?
Obama: Well, I think that a new president can do an enormous amount to restore confidence, to move an agenda forward that speaks to the needs of the economy and the needs of middle-class families all across the country.
I’ve outlined during the course of the campaign some critical issues that I intend to work on.
We have a current financial crisis that is spilling out into rest of the economy, and we have taken some action so far. More action is undoubtedly going to be needed. My transition team is going to be monitoring very closely what happens over the course of the next several months.
The one thing I can say with certainty is that we are going to need to see a stimulus package passed either before or after inauguration.
We are going to have to focus on jobs, because the hemorrhaging of jobs has an impact, obviously, on consumer confidence and the ability of people to — to buy goods and services and can have enormous spillover effects.
And I think it’s going to be very important for us to provide the kinds of assistance to state and local governments to make sure that they don’t compound some of the problems that are already out there by having to initiate major layoffs or initiate tax increases.
So there are some things that we know we’re going to have to do, but I’m confident that a new president can have an enormous impact. That’s why I ran for president.
Question: (off-mike) … from House Democrats that the stimulus package may be in trouble, that it’s going to be a hard time getting out of a lame-duck session. Are you still confident that you would be able to get something done before you actually take office?
Obama: I want to see a stimulus package sooner rather than later. If it does not get done in the lame-duck session, it will be the first thing I get done as president of the United States.
Question: Senator, for the first time since the Iranian revolution, the president of Iran sent a congratulations note to a new U.S. president. I’m wondering if, first of all, if you responded to President Ahmadinejad’s note of congratulations and, second of all, and more importantly, how soon do you plan on sending low-level envoys to countries such as Iran, Syria, Venezuela, Cuba, to see if a presidential-level talk would be productive?
Obama: I am aware that the letter was sent. Let me state — repeat what I stated during the course of the campaign.
Iran’s development of a nuclear weapon I believe is unacceptable. And we have to mount a international effort to prevent that from happening.
Iran’s support of terrorist organizations I think is something that has to cease.
I will be reviewing the letter from President Ahmadinejad, and we will respond appropriately. It’s only been three days since the election. Obviously, how we approach and deal with a country like Iran is not something that we should, you know, simply do in a knee- jerk fashion. I think we’ve got to think it through.
But I have to reiterate once again that we only have one president at a time. And I want to be very careful that we are sending the right signals to the world as a whole that I am not the president and I won’t be until January 20th.
Question: Picking up what we were just talking about, your meeting with President Bush on Monday. When — he is still the decider, obviously, stating the obvious. When you disagree with decisions he makes, will you defer? Will you challenge? Will you confront? And if it becomes confrontational, could that rattle the markets even more?
Obama: Well, President Bush graciously invited Michelle and I to — to meet with him and First Lady Laura Bush. We are gratified by the invitation. I’m sure that, in addition to taking a tour of the White House, there’s going to be a substantive conversation between myself and the president.
I’m not going to anticipate problems. I’m going to go in there with a spirit of bipartisanship and a sense that both the president and various leaders in Congress all recognize the severity of the situation right now and want to get stuff done.
And, you know, undoubtedly there may end up being differences between not just members of different parties, but between people within the same party.
The critical point and I think the critical tone that has to be struck by all of us involved right now is the American people need help. This economy is in bad shape. And we have just completed one of the longest election cycles in recorded history.
Now is a good time for us to set politics aside for a while and think practically about what will actually work to move the economy forward. And it’s in that spirit that I’ll have the conversation with the president.
Question: Thank you, Mr. President-elect. With the country facing two wars and a financial crisis, do you think it’s important for you to move especially quickly to fill key cabinet posts, such as treasury secretary and secretary of state?
Obama: When we have an announcement about cabinet appointments, we will make them. There is no doubt that I think people want to know who’s going to make up our team.
And I want to move with all deliberate haste, but I want to emphasize “deliberate” as well as “haste.” I’m proud of the choice I made of vice president, partly because we did it right. I’m proud of the choice of chief of staff, because we thought it through.
And I think it’s very important, in all these key positions, both in the economic team and the national security team, to — to get it right and not to be so rushed that you end up making mistakes.
I’m confident that we’re going to have an outstanding team, and we will be rolling that out in subsequent weeks.
Question: Yes, sir. To what extent — to what extent are you planning to use your probably pretty great influence in determining the successor for your Senate seat? And what sort of criteria should the governor be looking at in filling that position?
Obama: This is the governor’s decision; it is not my decision.
And I think that the criteria that I would have for my successor would be the same criteria that I’d have if I were a voter: somebody who is capable; somebody who is passionate about helping working families in Illinois meet their — meet their dreams.
And I think there are going to be a lot of good choices out there, but it is the governor’s decision to make, not mine.
Question: Mr. President-elect …
Obama: What happened to your arm, Lynn?
Question: I cracked my shoulder running to your speech on election night.
Obama: Oh, no.
Obama: I think that was the only major incident during the — the entire Grant Park celebration.
Question: Thank you for asking. Here’s my question. I’m wondering what you’re doing to get ready. Have you spoke to any living ex-presidents, what books you might be reading?
Everyone wants to know, what kind of dog are you going to buy for your girls? Have you decided on a private or public school for your daughters?
Obama: Let — let me list those off.
In terms of speaking to former presidents, I’ve spoken to all of them that are living. Obviously, President Clinton — I didn’t want to get into a Nancy Reagan thing about, you know, doing any seances.
I have re-read some of Lincoln’s writings, who’s always an extraordinary inspiration.
And, by the way, President Carter, President Bush, Sr., as well as the current president have all been very gracious and offered to provide any help that they can in this transition process.
With respect to the dog, this is a major issue. I think it’s generated more interest on our Web site than just about anything.
We have — we have two criteria that have to be reconciled. One is that Malia is allergic, so it has to be hypoallergenic. There are a number of breeds that are hypoallergenic.
On the other hand, our preference would be to get a shelter dog, but, obviously, a lot of shelter dogs are mutts like me. So — so whether we’re going to be able to balance those two things I think is a pressing issue on the Obama household.
And with respect to schools, Michelle will be — will be scouting out some schools. We’ll be making a decision about that in the future.
Question: You are now privy to a lot of intelligence that you haven’t had access to before, in fact, much of what the president sees, I’m sure all of it.
First of all, do you — what do you think about the state of U.S. intelligence, whether you think it needs beefing up, whether you think there’s enough interaction between the various agencies?
And, second of all, has anything that you’ve heard given you pause about anything you’ve talked about on the campaign trail?
Obama: Well, as you know, if — if there was something I had heard, I couldn’t tell you. But…
Obama: I have received intelligence briefings. And I will make just a general statement.
Our intelligence process can always improve. I think it has gotten better. And, you know, beyond that, I don’t think I should comment on the nature of the intelligence briefings.
That was a two-parter. Was there another aspect to that?
Question: Well, just whether — you know, absent what you’ve heard…
Obama: OK, I get you.
Question: … whether anything has given you pause.
Obama: I’m going to skip that.
Question: Mr. President-elect, do you still intend to seek income tax increases for upper-income Americans? And if so, should these Americans expect to pay higher taxes in 2009?
Obama: The — my tax plan represented a net tax cut. It provided for substantial middle-class tax cuts; 95 percent of working Americans would receive them.
It also provided for cuts in capital gains for small businesses, additional tax credits. All of it is designed for job growth.
My priority is going to be, how do we grow the economy? How do we create more jobs?
I think that the plan that we’ve put forward is the right one, but, obviously, over the next several weeks and months, we’re going to be continuing to take a look at the data and see what’s taking place in the economy as a whole.
All right. Thank you very much, guys.
Friday GM officials announced that the nations largest automotive maker sustained major third-quarter losses at a sum of $2.5B. Officials say that during the current quarter, GM has used $6.9B, which means that GM “will approach the minimum amount necessary to operate its’ business.”
This desperate news has temporarily halted talks between GM and Chrysler about a possible merger. GM has proposed a plan to stop the bleeding that will affect its’ white and blue collar employees. GM says that it will indefinitely lay-off 3,600 salaried employee positions, which will save the automotive giant $500M. In January, 10 plants will began a slow-down in production.
If you are employed by GM, get that resume updated and start a account with Monster.Com. Don’t wait for the pink slip to find you with your undies down around your ankles. Take it from me.
An indefinitely laid-off Chrysler employee.
Remarks of President-Elect Barack Obama
(as prepared for delivery)
Tuesday, November 4th, 2008
If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible; who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time; who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer.
It’s the answer told by lines that stretched around schools and churches in numbers this nation has never seen; by people who waited three hours and four hours, many for the very first time in their lives, because they believed that this time must be different; that their voice could be that difference.
It’s the answer spoken by young and old, rich and poor, Democrat and Republican, black, white, Latino, Asian, Native American, gay, straight, disabled and not disabled – Americans who sent a message to the world that we have never been a collection of Red States and Blue States: we are, and always will be, the United States of America.
It’s the answer that led those who have been told for so long by so many to be cynical, and fearful, and doubtful of what we can achieve to put their hands on the arc of history and bend it once more toward the hope of a better day.
It’s been a long time coming, but tonight, because of what we did on this day, in this election, at this defining moment, change has come to America.
I just received a very gracious call from Senator McCain. He fought long and hard in this campaign, and he’s fought even longer and harder for the country he loves. He has endured sacrifices for America that most of us cannot begin to imagine, and we are better off for the service rendered by this brave and selfless leader. I congratulate him and Governor Palin for all they have achieved, and I look forward to working with them to renew this nation’s promise in the months ahead.
I want to thank my partner in this journey, a man who campaigned from his heart and spoke for the men and women he grew up with on the streets of Scranton and rode with on that train home to Delaware, the Vice President-elect of the United States, Joe Biden.
I would not be standing here tonight without the unyielding support of my best friend for the last sixteen years, the rock of our family and the love of my life, our nation’s next First Lady, Michelle Obama. Sasha and Malia, I love you both so much, and you have earned the new puppy that’s coming with us to the White House. And while she’s no longer with us, I know my grandmother is watching, along with the family that made me who I am. I miss them tonight, and know that my debt to them is beyond measure.
To my campaign manager David Plouffe, my chief strategist David Axelrod, and the best campaign team ever assembled in the history of politics – you made this happen, and I am forever grateful for what you’ve sacrificed to get it done.
But above all, I will never forget who this victory truly belongs to – it belongs to you.
I was never the likeliest candidate for this office. We didn’t start with much money or many endorsements. Our campaign was not hatched in the halls of Washington – it began in the backyards of Des Moines and the living rooms of Concord and the front porches of Charleston.
It was built by working men and women who dug into what little savings they had to give five dollars and ten dollars and twenty dollars to this cause. It grew strength from the young people who rejected the myth of their generation’s apathy; who left their homes and their families for jobs that offered little pay and less sleep; from the not-so-young people who braved the bitter cold and scorching heat to knock on the doors of perfect strangers; from the millions of Americans who volunteered, and organized, and proved that more than two centuries later, a government of the people, by the people and for the people has not perished from this Earth. This is your victory.
I know you didn’t do this just to win an election and I know you didn’t do it for me. You did it because you understand the enormity of the task that lies ahead. For even as we celebrate tonight, we know the challenges that tomorrow will bring are the greatest of our lifetime – two wars, a planet in peril, the worst financial crisis in a century. Even as we stand here tonight, we know there are brave Americans waking up in the deserts of Iraq and the mountains of Afghanistan to risk their lives for us. There are mothers and fathers who will lie awake after their children fall asleep and wonder how they’ll make the mortgage, or pay their doctor’s bills, or save enough for college. There is new energy to harness and new jobs to be created; new schools to build and threats to meet and alliances to repair.
The road ahead will be long. Our climb will be steep. We may not get there in one year or even one term, but America – I have never been more hopeful than I am tonight that we will get there. I promise you – we as a people will get there.
There will be setbacks and false starts. There are many who won’t agree with every decision or policy I make as President, and we know that government can’t solve every problem. But I will always be honest with you about the challenges we face. I will listen to you, especially when we disagree. And above all, I will ask you join in the work of remaking this nation the only way it’s been done in America for two-hundred and twenty-one years – block by block, brick by brick, calloused hand by calloused hand.
What began twenty-one months ago in the depths of winter must not end on this autumn night. This victory alone is not the change we seek – it is only the chance for us to make that change. And that cannot happen if we go back to the way things were. It cannot happen without you.
So let us summon a new spirit of patriotism; of service and responsibility where each of us resolves to pitch in and work harder and look after not only ourselves, but each other. Let us remember that if this financial crisis taught us anything, it’s that we cannot have a thriving Wall Street while Main Street suffers – in this country, we rise or fall as one nation; as one people.
Let us resist the temptation to fall back on the same partisanship and pettiness and immaturity that has poisoned our politics for so long. Let us remember that it was a man from this state who first carried the banner of the Republican Party to the White House – a party founded on the values of self-reliance, individual liberty, and national unity. Those are values we all share, and while the Democratic Party has won a great victory tonight, we do so with a measure of humility and determination to heal the divides that have held back our progress. As Lincoln said to a nation far more divided than ours, “We are not enemies, but friends…though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection.” And to those Americans whose support I have yet to earn – I may not have won your vote, but I hear your voices, I need your help, and I will be your President too.
And to all those watching tonight from beyond our shores, from parliaments and palaces to those who are huddled around radios in the forgotten corners of our world – our stories are singular, but our destiny is shared, and a new dawn of American leadership is at hand. To those who would tear this world down – we will defeat you. To those who seek peace and security – we support you. And to all those who have wondered if America’s beacon still burns as bright – tonight we proved once more that the true strength of our nation comes not from our the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals: democracy, liberty, opportunity, and unyielding hope.
For that is the true genius of America – that America can change. Our union can be perfected. And what we have already achieved gives us hope for what we can and must achieve tomorrow.
This election had many firsts and many stories that will be told for generations. But one that’s on my mind tonight is about a woman who cast her ballot in Atlanta. She’s a lot like the millions of others who stood in line to make their voice heard in this election except for one thing – Ann Nixon Cooper is 106 years old.
She was born just a generation past slavery; a time when there were no cars on the road or planes in the sky; when someone like her couldn’t vote for two reasons – because she was a woman and because of the color of her skin.
And tonight, I think about all that she’s seen throughout her century in America – the heartache and the hope; the struggle and the progress; the times we were told that we can’t, and the people who pressed on with that American creed: Yes we can.
At a time when women’s voices were silenced and their hopes dismissed, she lived to see them stand up and speak out and reach for the ballot. Yes we can.
When there was despair in the dust bowl and depression across the land, she saw a nation conquer fear itself with a New Deal, new jobs and a new sense of common purpose. Yes we can.
When the bombs fell on our harbor and tyranny threatened the world, she was there to witness a generation rise to greatness and a democracy was saved. Yes we can.
She was there for the buses in Montgomery, the hoses in Birmingham, a bridge in Selma, and a preacher from Atlanta who told a people that “We Shall Overcome.” Yes we can.
A man touched down on the moon, a wall came down in Berlin, a world was connected by our own science and imagination. And this year, in this election, she touched her finger to a screen, and cast her vote, because after 106 years in America, through the best of times and the darkest of hours, she knows how America can change. Yes we can.
America, we have come so far. We have seen so much. But there is so much more to do. So tonight, let us ask ourselves – if our children should live to see the next century; if my daughters should be so lucky to live as long as Ann Nixon Cooper, what change will they see? What progress will we have made?
This is our chance to answer that call. This is our moment. 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 doubt, 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. Thank you, God bless you, and may God Bless the United States of America.
Senator Barack Obama walked away with 338 votes from the electoral college to cement his place in United States history as the first African American to sit in a seat of power in the Oval Office.
President-Elect Barack Obama has completed a full circle of history for not only African Americans in America, but America as a whole. 400 plus years ago, Africans were kidnapped from their homeland, Africa, to be sold as cattle to Caucasian Americans who had settled in the colonies of the New World. This New World was inhabited by the subjects of England who wanted to establish a place where religious and socio freedoms could be exercised.
Unfortunately, these freedoms were not extended to the humans that were forced to give their lives to a lop-sided, hypocritical and essentially ignorant ideology that was void of compassion and integrity. Yet, this New World became the foundation to what was to become the United States of America. A piece of paper drafted by a group of men seeking liberty from oppression and tyranny from the crown of England, expressed the independent attitude of a young country that held the fundamental concept “that all men are created equal with certain inalienable rights…life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
However, when the Revolutionary War was fought and won, America did not and refused to extend those liberties to African American slaves. The Civil War and Lincoln’s Republican Party freed the slaves technically, but it wasn’t until the mid to late 1960′s that African Americans were ever really able to, with confidence, apply the Declaration of Independence to themselves.
November 4, 2008, a forty-seven year old African American man from a low to moderate income background, who garnered scholarships and loans to attend Harvard, became the forty-fourth President-Elect of the United States. Did Frederick Douglass, Harriet Tubman, Mary McLoud Bethune, Benjamen Banneker, Nat Turner, Robert Smalls, Carter Woodson, Thurgood Marshall, W.E.B DuBois, Booker T. Washington, Paul Robeson, James Weldon Johnson, Langston Hughes, Eubie Blake, Rosa Parks, Emmit Till, Marcus Garvey, the four little girls murdered one dark Sunday in the 1960′s, John F. Kennedy and his brother Robert Francis, Medger Evers, El Hajj Malik Shabazz (Malcolm X), Martin Luther King, Jr., Kunta Kinte and my own enslaved great-great-great-great-grandfather George Nelson Ricks, dare to dream this day could ever be possible?
It would seem that the great Langston Hughes’ poem, “I, Too, Sing America,” would be appropriate right about now:
I am the darker brother.
They send me to eat in the kitchen
When company comes,
But I laugh,
And eat well,
And grow strong.
I’ll be at the table
When company comes.
Say to me,
“Eat in the kitchen,”
They’ll see how beautiful I am
And be ashamed–
I, too, sing America.
The Associated Press filed this report late Monday:
HONOLULU (AP) — Barack Obama’s grandmother, whose personality and bearing shaped much of the life of the Democratic presidential contender, has died, Obama announced Monday, one day before the election. Madelyn Payne Dunham was 86.
Obama announced the news from the campaign trail in Charlotte, N.C. The joint statement with his sister Maya Soetoro-Ng said Dunham died late Sunday night after a battle with cancer.
“She’s gone home,” Obama said as tens of thousands of rowdy supporters at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte grew silent in an evening drizzle.
“And she died peacefully in her sleep with my sister at her side. And so there is great joy as well as tears. I’m not going to talk about it too long because it is hard for me to talk about.”
But he said he wanted people to know a little about her – that she lived through the Great Depression and World War II, working the latter on a bomber assembly line with a baby at home and a husband serving his country. He said she was humble and plain spoken, one of the “quiet heroes that we have all across America” working hard and hoping to see their children and grandchildren thrive.
“That’s what we’re fighting for,” Obama said.
Obama learned of Dunham’s death Monday morning while he was campaigning in Jacksonville, Fla. He went ahead with campaign appearances. The family said a private ceremony would be held later.
“So many of us were hoping and praying that his grandmother would have the opportunity to witness her grandson become our next president,” said Hawaii state Rep. Marcus Oshiro, an Obama supporter. “What a bittersweet victory it will be for him. Wow.”
Republican John McCain issued condolences to his opponent. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to them as they remember and celebrate the life of someone who had such a profound impact in their lives,” the statement by John and Cindy McCain said.
Last month, Obama took a break from campaigning and flew to Hawaii to be with Dunham as her health declined.
Obama said the decision to go to Hawaii was easy to make, telling CBS that he “got there too late” when his mother died of ovarian cancer in 1995 at 53, and wanted to make sure “that I don’t make the same mistake twice.”
Outside the apartment building where Dunham died, reporters and TV cameras lined the sidewalk as two police officers were posted near the elevator. Signs hanging in the apartment lobby warned the public to keep out.
The Kansas-born Dunham and her husband, Stanley, raised their grandson for several years so he could attend school in Honolulu while their daughter and her second husband lived overseas. Her influence on Obama’s manner and the way he viewed the world was substantial, the candidate himself told millions watching him accept his party’s nomination in Denver in August.
“She’s the one who taught me about hard work,” he said. “She’s the one who put off buying a new car or a new dress for herself so that I could have a better life. She poured everything she had into me.”
Michelle Obama’s voice choked with emotion during a campaign appearance in Colorado as she asked people to remember the woman her husband called “Toot,” a version of the Hawaiian word for grandmother, tutu.
“Say a prayer for Toot and thank her for raising Barack Obama. I think she did an amazing job,” Obama told about 2,500 people at a suburban Denver high school gym.
Madelyn and Stanley Dunham married in 1940, a few weeks before she graduated from high school. Their daughter, Stanley Ann, was born in 1942. After several moves to and from California, Texas, Washington and Kansas, Stanley Dunham’s job landed the family in Hawaii.
It was there that Stanley Ann later met and fell in love with Obama’s father, a Kenyan named Barack Hussein Obama. They had met in Russian class at the University of Hawaii. Their son was born in August 1961, but the marriage didn’t last long. She later married an Indonesian, Lolo Soetoro, another university student she met in Hawaii.
Obama moved to Indonesia with his mother and stepfather at age 6. But in 1971, her mother sent him back to Hawaii to live with her parents. He stayed with the Dunhams until he graduated from high school in 1979.
In his autobiography, Obama wrote fondly of playing basketball on a court below his grandparents’ 10th-floor Honolulu apartment, and looking up to see his grandmother watching.
It was the same apartment Obama visited on annual holiday trips to Hawaii, a weeklong vacation from his campaign in August, and his pre-election visit in October. Family members said his grandmother could not travel because of her health.
Madelyn Dunham, who took university classes but to her chagrin never earned a degree, nonetheless rose from a secretarial job at the Bank of Hawaii to become one of the state’s first female bank vice presidents.
“Every morning, she woke up at 5 a.m. and changed from the frowsy muumuus she wore around the apartment into a tailored suit and high-heeled pumps,” Obama wrote.
After her health took a turn for the worse, her brother said on Oct. 21 that she had already lived long enough to see her “Barry” achieve what she’d wanted for him.
“I think she thinks she was important in raising a fine young man,” Charles Payne, 83, said in a brief telephone interview from his Chicago home. “I doubt if it would occur to her that he would go this far this fast. But she’s enjoyed watching it.”
Stanley Dunham died in 1992, while Obama’s mother died in 1995. His father is also deceased.
When Obama was young, he and his grandmother toured the United States by Greyhound bus, stopping at the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone Park, Disneyland and Chicago, where Obama would years later settle.
It was an incident during his teenage years that became one of Obama’s most vivid memories of Toot. She had been aggressively panhandled by a man and she wanted her husband to take her to work. When Obama asked why, his grandfather said Madelyn Dunham was bothered because the panhandler was black.
The words hit the biracial Obama “like a fist in my stomach,” he wrote later. He was sure his grandparents loved him deeply. “And yet,” he added, “I knew that men who might easily have been my brothers could still inspire their rawest fears.”
Obama referred to the incident again when he addressed race in a speech in March during a controversy over his former pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright. “I can no more disown him than I can my white grandmother,” he said.
Dunham was “a woman who loves me as much as she loves anything in this world but who once confessed her fear of black men who passed her on the street.”
Still, much of who Obama is comes from his grandmother, said his half sister.
“From our grandmother, he gets his pragmatism, his levelheadedness, his ability to stay centered in the eye of the story,” she told The Associated Press. “His sensible, no-nonsense (side) is inherited from her.”
Madelyn Lee Payne was born to Rolla and Leona Payne in October 1922 in Peru, Kan., but lived much of her childhood in nearby Augusta.
She was the oldest of four children, and she loved to read everything from James Hilton’s “Lost Horizon” to Agatha Christie’s “The Murder of Roger Ackroyd.”
Courtesy of the Associated Press Staff Writers