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You see, Barack and I were both raised by families who didn’t have much in the way

of money or material possessions but who had given us something far more valuable

their unconditional love, their unflinching sacrifice, and the chance to go places

they had never imagined for themselves.

 

 

The Truth Matters

DNC Speech by Michelle Obama

 

4 September 2012

Charlotte, North Carolina

 

Over the past few years as First Lady, I have had the extraordinary privilege of traveling all across this country. And everywhere I’ve gone, in the people I’ve met, and the stories I’ve heard, I have seen the very best of the American spirit. I have seen it in the incredible kindness and warmth that people have shown me and my family, especially our girls. I’ve seen it in teachers in a near-bankrupt school district who vowed to keep teaching without pay. I’ve seen it in people who become heroes at a moment’s notice, diving into harm’s way to save others…flying across the country to put out a fire . . . driving for hours to bail out a flooded town.

And I’ve seen it in our men and women in uniform and our proud military families…in wounded warriors who tell me they’re not just going to walk again, they’re going to run, and they’re going to run marathons…in the young man blinded by a bomb in Afghanistan who said, simply, “ . . . I’d give my eyes 100 times again to have the chance to do what I have done and what I can still do.” Every day, the people I meet inspire me . . . every day, they make me proud . . . every day they remind me how blessed we are to live in the greatest nation on earth.

Serving as your First Lady is an honor and a privilege…but back when we first came together four years ago, I still had some concerns about this journey we’d begun. While I believed deeply in my husband’s vision for this country . . . and I was certain he would make an extraordinary President…like any mother, I was worried about what it would mean for our girls if he got that chance.

How would we keep them grounded under the glare of the national spotlight? How would they feel being uprooted from their school, their friends, and the only home they’d ever known? Our life before moving to Washington was filled with simple joys…Saturdays at soccer games, Sundays at grandma’s house…and a date night for Barack and me was either dinner or a movie, because as an exhausted mom, I couldn’t stay awake for both.

And the truth is, I loved the life we had built for our girls…I deeply loved the man I had built that life with…and I didn’t want that to change if he became President. I loved Barack just the way he was.

You see, even though back then Barack was a Senator and a presidential candidate . . . to me, he was still the guy who’d picked me up for our dates in a car that was so rusted out, I could actually see the pavement going by through a hole in the passenger side door . . . he was the guy whose proudest possession was a coffee table he’d found in a dumpster, and whose only pair of decent shoes was half a size too small.

But when Barack started telling me about his familythat’s when I knew I had found a kindred spirit, someone whose values and upbringing were so much like mine. You see, Barack and I were both raised by families who didn’t have much in the way of money or material possessions but who had given us something far more valuabletheir unconditional love, their unflinching sacrifice, and the chance to go places they had never imagined for themselves.

My father was a pump operator at the city water plant, and he was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis when my brother and I were young.And even as a kid, I knew there were plenty of days when he was in pain . . . I knew there were plenty of mornings when it was a struggle for him to simply get out of bed. But every morning, I watched my father wake up with a smile, grab his walker, prop himself up against the bathroom sink, and slowly shave and button his uniform.

And when he returned home after a long day’s work, my brother and I would stand at the top of the stairs to our little apartment, patiently waiting to greet him . . . watching as he reached down to lift one leg, and then the other, to slowly climb his way into our arms. But despite these challenges, my dad hardly ever missed a day of work . . . he and my mom were determined to give me and my brother the kind of education they could only dream of.

And when my brother and I finally made it to college, nearly all of our tuition came from student loans and grants. But my dad still had to pay a tiny portion of that tuition himself. And every semester, he was determined to pay that bill right on time, even taking out loans when he fell short. He was so proud to be sending his kids to college…and he made sure we never missed a registration deadline because his check was late. You see, for my dad, that’s what it meant to be a man.

Like so many of us, that was the measure of his success in lifebeing able to earn a decent living that allowed him to support his family. And as I got to know Barack, I realized that even though he’d grown up all the way across the country, he’d been brought up just like me.Barack was raised by a single mom who struggled to pay the bills, and by grandparents who stepped in when she needed help.

Barack’s grandmother started out as a secretary at a community bank…and she moved quickly up the ranks…but like so many women, she hit a glass ceiling. And for years, men no more qualified than she wasmen she had actually trainedwere promoted up the ladder ahead of her, earning more and more money while Barack’s family continued to scrape by. But day after day, she kept on waking up at dawn to catch the bus…arriving at work before anyone else…giving her best without complaint or regret.

And she would often tell Barack, “So long as you kids do well, Bar, that’s all that really matters.” Like so many American families, our families weren’t asking for much. They didn’t begrudge anyone else’s success or care that others had much more than they did…in fact, they admired it. They simply believed in that fundamental American promise that, even if you don’t start out with much, if you work hard and do what you’re supposed to do, then you should be able to build a decent life for yourself and an even better life for your kids and grandkids. That’s how they raised us . . . that’s what we learned from their example.

We learned about dignity and decency—that how hard you work matters more than how much you make . . . that helping others means more than just getting ahead yourself. We learned about honesty and integrity—that the truth matters . . . that you don’t take shortcuts or play by your own set of rules . . . and success doesn’t count unless you earn it fair and square.

We learned about gratitude and humilitythat so many people had a hand in our success, from the teachers who inspired us to the janitors who kept our school clean . . . and we were taught to value everyone’s contribution and treat everyone with respect. Those are the values Barack and Iand so many of youare trying to pass on to our own children.That’s who we are.

And standing before you four years ago, I knew that I didn’t want any of that to change if Barack became President. Well, today, after so many struggles and triumphs and moments that have tested my husband in ways I never could have imagined, I have seen firsthand that being president doesn’t change who you areit reveals who you are. You see, I’ve gotten to see up close and personal what being president really looks like. And I’ve seen how the issues that come across a President’s desk are always the hard onesthe problems where no amount of data or numbers will get you to the right answer…the judgment calls where the stakes are so high, and there is no margin for error.

And as President, you can get all kinds of advice from all kinds of people. But at the end of the day, when it comes time to make that decision, as President, all you have to guide you are your values, and your vision, and the life experiences that make you who you are. So when it comes to rebuilding our economy, Barack is thinking about folks like my dad and like his grandmother. He’s thinking about the pride that comes from a hard day’s work.

That’s why he signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act to help women get equal pay for equal work. That’s why he cut taxes for working families and small businesses and fought to get the auto industry back on its feet. That’s how he brought our economy from the brink of collapse to creating jobs againjobs you can raise a family on, good jobs right here in the United States of America.

When it comes to the health of our families, Barack refused to listen to all those folks who told him to leave health reform for another day, another president. He didn’t care whether it was the easy thing to do politicallythat’s not how he was raisedhe cared that it was the right thing to do. He did it because he believes that here in America, our grandparents should be able to afford their medicine . . . our kids should be able to see a doctor when they’re sick…and no one in this country should ever go broke because of an accident or illness.

And he believes that women are more than capable of making our own choices about our bodies and our health care…that’s what my husband stands for. When it comes to giving our kids the education they deserve, Barack knows that like me and like so many of you, he never could’ve attended college without financial aid. And believe it or not, when we were first married, our combined monthly student loan bills were actually higher than our mortgage. We were so young, so in love, and so in debt.

That’s why Barack has fought so hard to increase student aid and keep interest rates down, because he wants every young person to fulfill their promise and be able to attend college without a mountain of debt. So in the end, for Barack, these issues aren’t politicalthey’re personal. Because Barack knows what it means when a family struggles. He knows what it means to want something more for your kids and grandkids.

Barack knows the American Dream because he’s lived it . . . and he wants everyone in this country to have that same opportunity, no matter who we are, or where we’re from, or what we look like, or who we love. And he believes that when you’ve worked hard, and done well, and walked through that doorway of opportunity . . . you do not slam it shut behind you…you reach back, and you give other folks the same chances that helped you succeed.

So when people ask me whether being in the White House has changed my husband, I can honestly say that when it comes to his character, and his convictions, and his heart, Barack Obama is still the same man I fell in love with all those years ago. He’s the same man who started his career by turning down high paying jobs and instead working in struggling neighborhoods where a steel plant had shut down, fighting to rebuild those communities and get folks back to work…because for Barack, success isn’t about how much money you make, it’s about the difference you make in people’s lives.

He’s the same man who, when our girls were first born, would anxiously check their cribs every few minutes to ensure they were still breathing, proudly showing them off to everyone we knew. That’s the man who sits down with me and our girls for dinner nearly every night, patiently answering their questions about issues in the news, and strategizing about middle school friendships. That’s the man I see in those quiet moments late at night, hunched over his desk, poring over the letters people have sent him.

The letter from the father struggling to pay his bills . . . from the woman dying of cancer whose insurance company won’t cover her care…from the young person with so much promise but so few opportunities. I see the concern in his eyes . . . and I hear the determination in his voice as he tells me, “You won’t believe what these folks are going through, Michelle . . . it’s not right.  We’ve got to keep working to fix this.  We’ve got so much more to do.”

I see how those storiesour collection of struggles and hopes and dreamsI see how that’s what drives Barack Obama every single day. And I didn’t think it was possible, but today, I love my husband even more than I did four years ago…even more than I did 23 years ago, when we first met. I love that he’s never forgotten how he started. I love that we can trust Barack to do what he says he’s going to do, even when it’s hardespecially when it’s hard.

I love that for Barack, there is no such thing as “us” and “them”he doesn’t care whether you’re a Democrat, a Republican, or none of the above…he knows that we all love our country…and he’s always ready to listen to good ideas . . . he’s always looking for the very best in everyone he meets. And I love that even in the toughest moments, when we’re all sweating itwhen we’re worried that the bill won’t pass, and it seems like all is lostBarack never lets himself get distracted by the chatter and the noise.

Just like his grandmother, he just keeps getting up and moving forward…with patience and wisdom, and courage and grace. And he reminds me that we are playing a long game here . . . and that change is hard, and change is slow, and it never happens all at once. But eventually we get there, we always do. We get there because of folks like my Dad . . . folks like Barack’s grandmother . . . men and women who said to themselves, “I may not have a chance to fulfill my dreams, but maybe my children will . . . maybe my grandchildren will.”

So many of us stand here tonight because of their sacrifice, and longing, and steadfast love…because time and again, they swallowed their fears and doubts and did what was hard. So today, when the challenges we face start to seem overwhelmingor even impossiblelet us never forget that doing the impossible is the history of this nation . . . it’s who we are as Americans . . . it’s how this country was built.

And if our parents and grandparents could toil and struggle for us…if they could raise beams of steel to the sky, send a man to the moon, and connect the world with the touch of a button…then surely we can keep on sacrificing and building for our own kids and grandkids.

And if so many brave men and women could wear our country’s uniform and sacrifice their lives for our most fundamental rights…then surely we can do our part as citizens of this great democracy to exercise those rights…surely, we can get to the polls and make our voices heard on Election Day.

If farmers and blacksmiths could win independence from an empire . . . if immigrants could leave behind everything they knew for a better life on our shores . . . if women could be dragged to jail for seeking the vote . . . if a generation could defeat a depression, and define greatness for all time . . . if a young preacher could lift us to the mountaintop with his righteous dream . . . and if proud Americans can be who they are and boldly stand at the altar with who they love . . . then surely, surely we can give everyone in this country a fair chance at that great American Dream.

Because in the end, more than anything else, that is the story of this countrythe story of unwavering hope grounded in unyielding struggle. That is what has made my story, and Barack’s story, and so many other American stories possible. And I say all of this tonight not just as First Lady . . . and not just as a wife. You see, at the end of the day, my most important title is still “mom-in-chief.” My daughters are still the heart of my heart and the center of my world.

But today, I have none of those worries from four years ago about whether Barack and I were doing what’s best for our girls. Because today, I know from experience that if I truly want to leave a better world for my daughters, and all our sons and daughters . . . if we want to give all our children a foundation for their dreams and opportunities worthy of their promise . . . if we want to give them that sense of limitless possibilitythat belief that here in America, there is always something better out there if you’re willing to work for it…then we must work like never before…and we must once again come together and stand together for the man we can trust to keep moving this great country forward…my husband, our President, President Barack Obama.

Thank you, God bless you, and God bless America.

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Response

Fantasizing America

On the first hearing of Michele Obama's DNC address I was brought to tears. It was a great contrast to the one given by Ann Romney's clipped sentences, attempting to humanize her husband Mitt the week before in Tampa. My first impression is that Ann's speech sank to crafted sentimentality and bathos whereas Michele's speech caused me to borrow from John Coltrane, the jazz saxophonist, and note on paper in response "A Love Supreme."

I watched Michele give her speech a 2nd and 3rd time. No tears came on these subsequent examinations. But I discovered even a greater artistry. Michele has learned much from her husband's oratorical skills, though her speech was fully feminine, expressing a great love for her husband and his character during times of crises and adversity. I suppose what balanced the scales for me and dried up my tears is that I do not possess her patriotism. Her present uncritical love of nation is alien to my experience.

Unlike her and Obama, I do not come from a middle-class urban environment nor was I taught growing up the middle-class ethic she sketched out tonight. The exaggerations in her well-delivered speech were very subtle. My grandparents did not wake up with a smile anxious to get to their jobs, nor did they fall into my arms after a day's grind at the wood mill where digits or limbs could be lost or a hot kitchen where black grandmothers earned less than fifty cents an hour.

Keep in mind I quite admired Michele’ artistry  to create a middle-class fantasy of her growing up in Chicago and Barack in Hawaii. I like others in Charlotte, especially the black women, admire the ideal love (Prince Charming/Prince Valiant image) that has manifested itself in their relationship.  But most of us in all reality are unable to conjure up such a wished-for love. That feel good-love, I suppose, is indeed appropriate in such political settings, where the nation’s misery is under the spot light.  The love between Michele and Barack, it is American Exceptionalism in its most tangible form.

What really threw me most heavily on the radical side of the scales is the notion of America as a "great nation" whose wealth was created by hard work and treating others with dignity and respect, and maybe a little help from government programs like the GI Bill or the Homestead Act or Social Security or the legalization of unions and other New Deal acts, all rather racist in their implementation. Maybe MLK raised Michele and Condi to the mountaintop, most people I know were not on that fantasy trip.

That middle-class veneer of promise is all too much to swallow when I am reading Michele Alexander's The New Jim Crow and Glen Loury's Race, Incarceration, and American Values and Annette Gordon-Reed's Andrew Johnson. It sit uneasily when there is boasting of American greatness when I know there are 50 million in this country go hungry before bed every night. And I am almost certain that the solutions to these personal tragedies are in no way on the docket to be dealt with in the next decade. But maybe the DNC delegates are mostly of that group one scholar refers to as masses ignoranti, the unread willing to believe liberal pleadings from the political podium. 

My historical class orientation, existing partially because I am younger than she and Barack, is just different. My sharecropper grandparents, who lived in southern Virginia during the Depression of the 30s and 40s did not benefit from New Deal largess or the largess of post-World War II government programs. They had to make it by hook or crook and the rugged struggles of their church community. Even in the mid-1960s my grandparents were in no financial situation to borrow money to send me to college and I never borrowed more than a $1,000 during my college years when I was in my thirties in the late1970s.

In short, though I found Michele's speech exceedingly moving and her dignified performance artistic, it was far from my own reality as much as so many happy-ending films I watch on cable TV. The Obama's and the nation's promise are like tinker bells ringing in a thunderous storm, barely heard  Of course, fantasies vary, some, like films, have more weight and quality than others. I am sure the DNC will have a Convention and arguments that will indeed outweigh those of the RNC performance in Tampa.

Though I did not buy Michele's pig in a poke, as I did not buy Ryan's sack of lies, I much prefer the former than the latter. I prefer the Democratic fantasy to the “masquerade ball(Maureen Dowd) put on by the Republicans in Florida.  I prefer democratic sweat to republican financial privileges.  I was impressed also by Deval Patrick's speech as well on a first hearing. Maybe I will come back later with a more critical view of his speech as well. Despite my criticisms and my unwillingness to drink to the dregs Michele's love potion, I encourage all to go out and vote to return Democrats to the White House and Congress.Rudy

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I like Deval's the best too. Remember Barack got in trouble for stealing lines from Deval during the 2008 campaign. I was surprised last night to see that i've interviewed 5 of the speakers: Deval, Craig Robinson, Barack's sister, Jimmy Carter and Kal Penn.—Kam

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Thank you, Rudy. There is much truth in what you have said, but all in all, and I disagree with some points, but all in all, we agree that we prefer the Democrats in the White House to the Republicans. Blessings today—Patricia

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Thanks Rudy for your analysis on Michele Obama's speech. I will listen to excerpts today. Canadians love Barack and we would gladly take him if Americans decide to choose differently. In fact we have plans of which Canadian universities we would first approach.—Claire

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Dear Rudy,

I found the above statement eye-opening.  It gave me a much clearer insight into your personal class struggle, and triumph.

I don't see her background as middle-class, but as classical working-class.   Michelle's parents had no college education, and did not own their own home.  Her father wore a uniform to work as a pump operator for the Chicago water supply.  Marginally, that might meet a definition of  "lower middle-class," in 1980 when Michelle was in high school.  

But my gosh, by 1980, when Michelle was 16, we would certainly not consider her family to be black bourgeoisie.   I would call the Robinsons stable working-class.   By 1980 so-called middle class black Chicagoans were much better off than her parents.   By 1980 there were a lot of Negro doctors and lawyers and school-teachers and engineers and professors and entrepreneurs in Chicago, and by 1983 there was even a black mayor.   In my view the Robinsons were decidedly hard-striving working class.  

My older son, born like Michelle in 1964, truly had middle class advantages.  Michelle bet the odds, and had real class barriers to hurdle.  Her performance has been an almost unbelievable triumph over the statistical curve.

But I definitely see your perspective.  Growing up in rural Virginia during the 1950s was a whole lot tougher.Wilson

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I don't see her background as middle-class, but as classical working-class.Wilson

Wilson, I quite agree. My middle-class remark was not so much an effort to fit Michele's parents and her family into a statistical class. My emphasis was on her imaging her father as one cheerful to go to work and cheerful on his return. An image of no anger at his boss or his situation, his trying conditions as a black man and as a man who was quite ill physically.

I denounced this imaging by Michele as a "middle class ethic" sketch and "middle class fantasy." Those two remarks remain valid and connote the general tenor of her imaging family and family struggles. Despite her father's working cheerfulness, it seemed however Obama's white grandmother did have some righteous resentment on how good white women were treated in the workplace. I am not sure what Michele's mother did to bring money into the household. But I am almost certain she was not a stay at home mom like Ann Romney.

My case is not against Michele's father. I had a father that worked for Bethlehem Steel as a laborer with no wife and no children legally. He too was a renter in the late 60s and early 70s. I would not call him "middle class," either, by any measure, though he had a "good" job, comparatively, a very dangerous job that gave him skin cancer, and forced him into retirement, with a pension that he could not live on well in Baltimore, and so he went back to Virginia, to his mother's house and became a drunk and a gentleman deer hunter.

Michele's father, as a government worker, was definitely in better shape financially and in quality of job than that of a Bethlehem Steel laborer who never finished high school. Michele's fantasy does not reflect the lives of my mother, who had three other children, and was a piece worker in the garment industry. She graduated all of her children from high school, and managed to finally purchase an attached home in a solid working class neighborhood in Southwest Baltimore.

Her children indeed exhibit some economic mobility, her grandchildren much less. At least a couple of her children live in quite middle class homes and neighborhoods with incomes over $100,000 a year and with wealth quite near that figure.

My larger point in this regard is that Michele's fantasy does not cover the lives of the overwhelming majority of black workers, men or women, in the 70s and 80s. It does not reflect their actual lives, and the compromises they had to make with Michele's sketch of the middle class ethic. But, as you know, one can call one's self "middle class" without being in the middle class, and, of course, one can possess the ethic and the perspective of the middle class without being in the middle class. There is a danger in that ethic that causes misery and tragedies of identity.

You are right about me. My case is unique, growing up in southern rural Virginia with parents who had no more than three years of formal schooling, a boy who plowed the earth with a mule, who walked to a one-room school for six years, who lived without indoor plumbing until I went to Baltimore in 1965. But my larger point is that my family's economic and political hardships are not unique among the majority of black people when I was a boy in the 50s and 60s or the 70s, and 80s when I was a young man.

To bring it home as it is today, Michele's fantasy does not reflect the lives of a critical proportion of black people. Her speech addressed a white working class audience and that her speech was indeed what was appropriate for a politician who wants to pull the wool over the eyes of the electorate that all is rather equal in opportunity among the working and middle classes, except for white women like Obama's white grandmother.

But as an intellectual I cannot accept Michele and her ethic as truly representative of the world I know and live. I am sure that there were and are indeed African Americans that more than approximate Michele's fantasy than I and those whom I am familiar. I suppose what really rankles me is that any criticism of Michele or Barack and their remarks and vision of America is met with derision by their ardent supporters. I am quite pleased you are not among them.Rudy

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Tribute to Fraser Robinson III‏

 

Wilson to Rudy September 6, 2012

Fraser C. Robinson III, Michelle Obama's father, was born August 1, 1935.  Only seven years before myself, and thus of the same generation.  When I started college at 18, Fraser was 25 years old, the same age as two of my closest frat brothers.  I had several friends who were his age, or older, including my best man.  So I naturally think of Fraser Robinson as a contemporary. 

But what really makes me a member of Fraser Robinson’s generation is the fact that my first son and his are almost the same age, and Michelle Obama was born in exactly the same year as my older son.  

When Fraser Robinson was stricken with multiple sclerosis, he got a kick in the teeth, I never received.  He managed to get to work with a cheerful smile on his face, while employed as a pump worker at the Chicago Water Plant.  I had reasonably good health, went to college, proceeded to graduate school, enjoyed a teaching assistantship.  I had a wife who was a college graduate and helped me get to Europe, visit the Louvre, become conversant in German, and completed my master’s degree.  And while Fraser was suffering from a cruel illness that ate away at his mobility, I was teaching college English and beginning work on a Ph. D.

My contemporary, Fraser Robinson had a much rougher way to go than I did, and if he was able to face his bad luck in a cheerful spirit of optimism, and bring home a paycheck every week, and send both his kids to Ivy League schools, then he did better than I did.  He had a tough break I cannot truly imagine, but apparently a cheerful work ethic paid off for his kids.

But based on the experience my older son, who graduated from Yale, I can say that children born in 1964 did not have carefree lives. They were born in turbulent times, and attended drug-infested schools.   

Michelle grew up in Chicago!  A tough town!   Far too many Chicago girls from her social class get pregnant, drop out of school, get hooked on drugs, fall victim to violence.  Michelle had to walk to school, ignoring the violence on the streets, where gangs were slugging it out for their drug territories, and jive Negroes were plotting ways to mess up her future.   When other girls of her background were dropping out of school, she made the most of her humble circumstances and became her class valedictorian.

I have profound respect for you and what you have accomplished as an intellectual, a librarian, an educator, and a journalist.  When I was a boy, our house was without hot water, you grew up without indoor plumbing.  I went to a public university, built on 25 years of my father’s tax dollars.  You had to leave the state to find a college that would accept African Americans.  You have been one of my most loyal supporters, and you have kept me intellectually honest. 

But I think we must both remember that it is not possible to make comparisons of the black experience across three generations and across very different regions of the country.

Speaking as a man of Frasier Robinson’s generation, as black father who brought up a son born in 1964 the same age as Michelle, my hat is off to that man.  He could stagger up the stairs when his legs were turning to mush, and still go to work, setting an example of good cheer and motivating two kids to make it through Princeton.   Not bad!Wilson  

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Wilson, you have written a very nice tribute to both Michele and her father. But my notes have not really been about Michele or her father's personal heroism as husband, provider, and worker. On those scores you have done well by both father and daughter, justifiably. Thus, you have no opposition from me on their successes.

Maybe I can get us to the heart of the matter at hand in this fashion. Recall four years ago Michele was attacked by her remark "only now have I really felt proud of my country." She came into her own in the post Reagan era and his War on Drugs and his Evil Empire. Now she has been privileged to be First Lady and now she has joined to chorus, "America is the greatest country on the face of the earth." Maybe that is not a far jump for Michele and Obama, considering the high places they now hold.

From their individual perspective such jingoistic remarks may hold a grain of truth. But it is not my truth. Most of us black folk have been left back at 2008. From my experience, I have called Michele's speech "fantasizing American."  Her sketch of the "middle-class ethic" is further fantasy in that it does not correspond to the realities of people I know and of people's lives I have read about or researched. I have used three generations of my family to say, in addition, that Michele is fantasizing a minority of black families. Her views are not expressed by most members of my family, or those I know, possibly because of a lack of education, opportunity, and outcomes of their lives.

There maybe a couple of persons in my family who may fit into Michele's fantasy sketch, but they are persons whose whole being are absorbed by consumption and devoid of any political consciousness of America as genocidal, imperial, racist, jingoistic, inhumane, callous, murderous, criminal, and some of whose leaders need to stand before the International Criminal Court at The Hague.Rudy 

Tutu: Bush, Blair should face trial at The Hague

Desmond Tutu Why I had no choice but to spurn Tony Blair—Leadership and morality are indivisible. Good leaders are the custodians of morality. The question is not whether Saddam Hussein was good or bad or how many of his people he massacred. The point is that Mr Bush and Mr Blair should not have allowed themselves to stoop to his immoral level.—guardian

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Michelle Obama's DNC Speech Written at 7 Grade Levels Above Ann Romney'sEric Ostermeier—5 September 2012— The First Lady's speech on Tuesday evening was delivered at a grade level of 12.84 - more than 3.5 grade levels above the next highest speech of the 10 previous prepared remarks delivered by wives of presidential nominees since the first such address in 1992 by Barbara Bush.

Ms. Obama also held the previous record with her 2008 speech with a grade level of 9.28.

The speech written at the third highest grade level by such spouses was by another Democrat, Teresa Kerry in 2004, at 9.20, followed by Elizabeth Dole at #4 in 1996 (8.51), Cindy McCain at #5 in 2008 (8.38), Hillary Clinton at #6 in 1996 (8.29), Barbara Bush at #7 in 1992 (7.99), Laura Bush at #8 in 2004 (7.77), Tipper Gore at #9 in 2000 (6.63), and Laura Bush at #10 in 2000 (6.46). . . .

What is interesting in this instance is the stark contrast in how the two political camps in the same election cycle rhetorically crafted their message through their spouses. Whether or not one believes Ann Romney was speaking plainly, or speaking down to her target audience is one for the pundits to debate.—blog.lib.umn.edu

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#2 - Flyy Girl by Omar Tyree
#3 - Head Bangers: An APF Sexcapade by Zane
#4 - Life Is Short But Wide by J. California Cooper
#5 - Stackin' Paper 2 Genesis' Payback by Joy King
#6 - Thug Lovin' (Thug 4) by Wahida Clark
#7 - When I Get Where I'm Going by Cheryl Robinson
#8 - Casting the First Stone by Kimberla Lawson Roby
#9 - The Sex Chronicles: Shattering the Myth by Zane

#10 - Covenant: A Thriller  by Brandon Massey

#11 - Diary Of A Street Diva  by Ashley and JaQuavis

#12 - Don't Ever Tell  by Brandon Massey

#13 - For colored girls who have considered suicide  by Ntozake Shange

#14 - For the Love of Money : A Novel by Omar Tyree

#15 - Homemade Loves  by J. California Cooper

#16 - The Future Has a Past: Stories by J. California Cooper

#17 - Player Haters by Carl Weber

#18 - Purple Panties: An Eroticanoir.com Anthology by Sidney Molare

#19 - Stackin' Paper by Joy King

#20 - Children of the Street: An Inspector Darko Dawson Mystery by Kwei Quartey

#21 - The Upper Room by Mary Monroe

#22 – Thug Matrimony  by Wahida Clark

#23 - Thugs And The Women Who Love Them by Wahida Clark

#24 - Married Men by Carl Weber

#25 - I Dreamt I Was in Heaven - The Rampage of the Rufus Buck Gang by Leonce Gaiter

Non-fiction

#1 - Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention by Manning Marable
#2 - Confessions of a Video Vixen by Karrine Steffans
#3 - Dear G-Spot: Straight Talk About Sex and Love by Zane
#4 - Letters to a Young Brother: MANifest Your Destiny by Hill Harper
#5 - Peace from Broken Pieces: How to Get Through What You're Going Through by Iyanla Vanzant
#6 - Selected Writings and Speeches of Marcus Garvey by Marcus Garvey
#7 - The Ebony Cookbook: A Date with a Dish by Freda DeKnight
#8 - The Isis Papers: The Keys to the Colors by Frances Cress Welsing
#9 - The Mis-Education of the Negro by Carter Godwin Woodson

#10 - John Henrik Clarke and the Power of Africana History  by Ahati N. N. Toure

#11 - Fail Up: 20 Lessons on Building Success from Failure by Tavis Smiley

#12 -The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander

#13 - The Black Male Handbook: A Blueprint for Life by Kevin Powell

#14 - The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates by Wes Moore

#15 - Why Men Fear Marriage: The Surprising Truth Behind Why So Many Men Can't Commit  by RM Johnson

#16 - Black Titan: A.G. Gaston and the Making of a Black American Millionaire by Carol Jenkins

#17 - Brainwashed: Challenging the Myth of Black Inferiority by Tom Burrell

#18 - A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose by Eckhart Tolle

#19 - John Oliver Killens: A Life of Black Literary Activism by Keith Gilyard

#20 - Alain L. Locke: The Biography of a Philosopher by Leonard Harris

#21 - Age Ain't Nothing but a Number: Black Women Explore Midlife by Carleen Brice

#22 - 2012 Guide to Literary Agents by Chuck Sambuchino
#23 - Chicken Soup for the Prisoner's Soul by Tom Lagana
#24 - 101 Things Every Boy/Young Man of Color Should Know by LaMarr Darnell Shields

#25 - Beyond the Black Lady: Sexuality and the New African American Middle Class  by Lisa B. Thompson

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The New New Deal

The Hidden Story of Change in the Obama Era

By Michael Grunwald

Time senior correspondent Michael Grunwald tells the secret history of the stimulus bill, the purest distillation of Change We Can Believe In, a microcosm of Obama’s policy successes and political failures. Though it is reviled by the right and rejected by the left, it really is a new New Deal, larger than FDR’s and just as transformative. It prevented an imminent depression, while jump-starting Obama’s long-term agenda. The stimulus is pouring $90 billion into clean energy, reinventing the way America is powered and fueled; it includes unprecedented investments in renewables, efficiency, electric cars, a smarter grid, cleaner coal, and more. It’s carrying health care into the digital era. Its Race to the Top initiative may be the boldest education reform in U.S. history. It produced the biggest middle-class tax cuts in a generation, a broadband initiative reminiscent of rural electrification, and an overhaul of the New Deal’s unemployment insurance system. It’s revamping the way government addresses homelessness, fixes infrastructure, and spends money.

Grunwald reveals how Republicans have obscured these achievements through obstruction and distortion. The stimulus launched a genuine national comeback. It also saved millions of jobs, while creating legacies that could rival the Hoover Dam: the world’s largest wind farm, a new U.S. battery industry, a new high-speed rail network, the world’s highest-speed Internet network.  Its main legacy, like the New Deal’s, will be change.

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Becoming American Under Fire

Irish Americans, African Americans, and the Politics of Citizenship

During the Civil War Era

By Christian G. Samito

In Becoming American under Fire, Christian G. Samito provides a rich account of how African American and Irish American soldiers influenced the modern vision of national citizenship that developed during the Civil War era. By bearing arms for the Union, African Americans and Irish Americans exhibited their loyalty to the United States and their capacity to act as citizens; they strengthened their American identity in the process. . . . For African American soldiers, proving manhood in combat was only one aspect to their quest for acceptance as citizens. As Samito reveals, by participating in courts-martial and protesting against unequal treatment, African Americans gained access to legal and political processes from which they had previously been excluded. The experience of African Americans in the military helped shape a postwar political movement that successfully called for rights and protections regardless of race.   For Love of Liberty

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The Warmth of Other Suns

The Epic Story of America's Great Migration

By Isabel Wilkerson

Ida Mae Brandon Gladney, a sharecropper's wife, left Mississippi for Milwaukee in 1937, after her cousin was falsely accused of stealing a white man's turkeys and was almost beaten to death. In 1945, George Swanson Starling, a citrus picker, fled Florida for Harlem after learning of the grove owners' plans to give him a "necktie party" (a lynching). Robert Joseph Pershing Foster made his trek from Louisiana to California in 1953, embittered by "the absurdity that he was doing surgery for the United States Army and couldn't operate in his own home town." Anchored to these three stories is Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist Wilkerson's magnificent, extensively researched study of the "great migration," the exodus of six million black Southerners out of the terror of Jim Crow to an "uncertain existence" in the North and Midwest.

Wilkerson deftly incorporates sociological and historical studies into the novelistic narratives of Gladney, Starling, and Pershing settling in new lands, building anew, and often finding that they have not left racism behind. The drama, poignancy, and romance of a classic immigrant saga pervade this book, hold the reader in its grasp, and resonate long after the reading is done.

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The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

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Ancient African Nations

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Negro Digest / Black World

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The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for Slavery / George Jackson  / Hurricane Carter

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The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

The Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804  / January 1, 1804 -- The Founding of Haiti 

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posted 7 September 2012 

 

 

 

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