Friday, March 23, 2007

Barack Obama for President

Folks were lovin’ Senator Barack Obama Saturday afternoon in Oakland when they finally got inside the enclosed Frank Ogawa plaza area. The police presence was minimal, volunteers everywhere in green Obama 2008 tee-shirts on a lovely St. Patrick’s Day. The sun played hide and seek – water distributed by volunteers to those who wanted refreshment. It was truly a day to remember—like a first kiss or marriage proposal. The courtship short and sweet.

Everyone was there: Kamala Harris, Eva Paterson, Oakland City Council members, County Supervisors, State Assemblyman Sandre Swanson. I was seated between Baba Eddie Abrams and Shelah Moody, in front of a former West Oakland neighbor, a member of Haiti Action, and
Willie Ratcliff our publisher.

Though the rally for the 2008 Presidential ticket started an hour late folks stood in the sun grooving to the old school music provided by the live band which was very good some of its members homegrown.Mayor Dellums came out first to welcome the senator to his city including in his greeting that of Barbara Lee who stood. Both his protegee: Lee and Supervisor Keith Carson were seated nearby.

Obama was introduced by a veteran from Oakland. I don’t know what neighborhood he grew up in, or what schools he attended. I don’t know why he enlisted in the first place and what he did in Iraq. I don’t even know why Obama choose him to speak, a white man in a black town, but anyway, he was there and he introduced Obama who came down the center aisle from City Hall like Mr. America, shaking hands as people went crazy – Vote for Obama placards waving, his name spelled out on cards. It was quite the frenzy.

During his talk he paced the stage greeting everyone near and far away – his body language inclusive. He had no notes and his talk referenced his decision to run, the climate in this country that made this inevitable, and why we should vote for him. He talked about the campaign trail, one his family was on with him, and the America he loved, one which was driven by the people, a people who don’t lie down and roll over just because the president tells them to.

He mentioned the war and that he’d voted against it and a bill he has introduced which calls for the withdrawal of the troops beginning in May 2007 and finishing by July next year. He also stated that by the end of his first term there would be universal healthcare.

Just in front of me Willie Ratcliff, the SF Bay View publisher jumped up frequently, arms raised in agreement with Obama as others joined him all around me in the reserved dais. Hundreds of others encircling the seated area. Tee-shirts were on sale for a donation, buttons, and bumper stickers. By the time I made it to the table, all the souvenir items were gone.

They’d given out placards which Obama signed for those near enough to get his attention. He was the perfect celebrity—reporters who’d been denied access to the pit jumping on the speaker stands to get shots of the senator up close despite the calls from security to move.I don’t know why it always amazes me when the black press is denied access. All the press allowed inside the enclosure were white mainstream media outlets, not the black press. One woman tried to evict me and Baba Eddie Abrams from our seats twice, yet said nothing to media representatives behind me taking up an entire row with their cameras and notebooks.

I just don’t know sometimes about our folks.


At 4:46 PM, Blogger legalstaff said...

Beyond Obama-mania
By Reginald James
I believe there is a “better future for America ,” but will the election of a President who is Black guarantee that. While I admire the diverse array of support Democratic Presidential candidate Senator Barack Obama (D-Illinois) rallied this past weekend in Oakland, and his positive campaign, I won’t cast my vote for a man based on his race or because he is “not as bad as the others.”

Most folks are uninformed about his positions. Mainstream media will cite Black dissatisfaction with Senator Obama due to his mixed lineage; Rush Limbaugh even called the brother a “half-frican.” Since when did the press get a license to authenticate our “Blackness?” With many capable leaders of light complexion, from W.E.B. DuBois to Thurgood Marshall to Huey P. Newton, hating on him because his skin tone is just a distraction to keep us real issues. Like his voting record.

First, Senator Obama refused to stand with the Congressional Black Caucus in opposition to the nullification of the Black vote in Ohio , not to mention his lack of critical questions to Scandaleeza Rice and Bush’s other terrible Supreme Court appointments. Another vote made it almost unimaginable for regular folks like me to sue these mega corporations who will gladly rob, kill or hustle us. He then voted to renew the PATRIOT Act, and while he speaks, vaguely, against the war in Iraq , he has advocated the bombing of Iran , and unequivocally supports Israel without any regard for Palestinians.

After surviving the Bush regime, people are looking for hope, and rightfully so; but we are better off getting involved locally, than depending one man to save the world. America loves to build people up to watch them fall. And living in the incarceration capitol of America , California , we must ask if his election will help stop the mass incarceration and biological warfare (HIV/AIDS) on Black people?

So while I think he has the potential to involve younger voters and change some of the character of politics, his election will neither stop imperialism or white supremacy. But we, the people, will.


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