Thursday, July 29, 2004

Obama bama bobama, banama fama fofama, fee fi momama... Obama!
I had to confess, while talking to C-baby last night about the Democratic Party’s new rising star, that I was guilty of some prejudicial mental imagery about Barack Obama over the past months. Before seeing his speech—which was as refreshing and inspiring as everybody is saying—I had a lazy picture in my head of Mr. Obama as, well, somewhat... Afro-centric.

To clarify: I guess I assumed, without giving the matter much thought, that he had been born as Joe Smith or something—possibly because his name reminded me of good poet/lousy ambassador to the Jewish community Amiri Baraka, whose name used to be Leroi Jones (Get it? Barack/Baraka?)—and Obama had changed his name in college to get in touch with his African roots. (That’s small ‘r’ roots. Not the TV show.)

This is of course a dumb assumption, as was proven by listening to his speech, during which he discussed his recent Kenyan ancestry, and even poked fun at himself as the former “skinny kid with the funny name.”

“Wait,” asked C-baby, “did you think he was going to come out in a daishiki, with his fist in the air, saying ‘Black power!’?” I had to admit that sounded pretty ridiculous. “And then,” she continued, “he was going to take your luggage out to the car?”

This last statement was a reference to the most recent episode of being a dumb white dude I had reported to her (there are probably other episodes I keep to myself): We were staying at a hotel in midtown Manhattan, and were waiting to get our suitcases from the bellhop so we could head to the airport. We had been told to wait for him by the front desk. After a few minutes, the elevator doors opened in front of us, and I saw a black guy in a suit step out, and immediately thought, ‘here he is!’

Of course, he wasn’t the bellhop. He was just a guy in a suit who happened to be black, presumably a guest of the hotel and most likely in a position to buy or sell my stupid cracker ass.

So, in summation, even smartass urban-dwelling liberals like me are vulnerable to snap racist judgments and stupid assumptions. Well, duh, C-baby might say. Oh, and I like Barack Obama. A lot.

A Link for the Road
Via Patho/Poly, an article about Bush’s handlers’ repeated plagiarizing of student papers from the internet for his speeches—in this case using a student-fabricated quote. Well, if it’s good enough for the youth of America, it’s good enough for the leader of the free world. The article also contains my favorite quote of the day...

At least, like Cuba's prostitutes, Kerry likes to stay clean.
Do you suppose it's too late to get that into his speech tonight?