Wednesday, November 26, 2008
This is going to be my last post until after the holiday weekend. Some friends are coming in town and I plan on reuniting my crew for the first time since Katrina. If that happens it means lots of Crown Royal so I won’t be in the mood or shape to blog about anything. Besides that it’s Bayou Classic weekend. It’s the time when guys like me who are not so young anymore pretend to run errands so they can drive downtown to look at college girls wearing their best outfits.
I will admit to being a bit sappy around the holidays. It's one of the few times of the year you can catch me in a genuine cheerful mood. I like hanging lights, buying a tree, drinking egg nog and all that good stuff. The only thing I can’t stand is those Lexus commercials that come on during the football games. You are sitting there watching the game and trying to figure out how to buy 20 gifts on a hundred dollar budget and this jerk on the commercial shows up with a Lexus wrapped in a big red bow.
Did I miss the inauguration and Barack Obama is already president? Where is George Bush? The same man who was jumping out of fighter jets and making speeches behind the Mission Accomplished banner couldn’t possibly lay low in the midst of this financial crisis.
Desiree Rogers is the new White House social secretary. She is the daughter of the late Councilman Roy Glapion. I know she lives in Chicago but we are claiming her for New Orleans. We need all the positive news we can get.
It’s a good thing the Saints smashed the Packers Monday (Sorry about that Maitri.). I needed something to break the recent string of bad news. There was the CNN special. There was this article showing that all of our kids are sick from living in FEMA trailers. We have also once again claimed the title as having America’s highest crime rate. What a news week!
I was wondering where all of our elected officials were while all of this is going on. Why do we seem to accept these things so quietly? This city is in desperate need of a pep talk. We think too negatively of ourselves and the behavior of our city leadership has made it worse than it’s ever been. Even the great inspector general who is hailed as a hero in some circles told CNN he doesn’t know how he wakes up in the morning when he has to deal with our city. I think that is counter productive that the man who is here to save the citizens money is on national television making sure we don’t have any other citizens moving here or visiting. We have to change our vibe. There’s a story in the newspaper this morning about how the area added 6000 jobs in October. This morning a person is looking for a job in another city that’s probably on the verge of a financial collapse in another part of the country. It’s all because we have made despair such a part of our daily routine that we can’t even accept a positive story like that anymore. I think we should name Lil Wayne as the city’s Goodwill Ambassador. We just have to make sure we have a translator there for the times he starts saying things no one can understand.
This song describes what I am feeling right now.
Monday, November 24, 2008
I have been watching and reading about this economic crisis for the last week. Everybody’s blaming upper management at the companies, Wall Street and the country’s economic team. They all have a hand in it however I think one group is missing from the equation. I think we are witnessing the brainwashing of the American public coming home to roost. Americans are a bunch of silly people. We trust educated people too much. Just because a person is educated does not mean they have the best interests of the country at heart. These people have divided Americans and have them so busy worrying about each other that no one pays attention to a damn thing they do. While we spend all of our time fussing about red and blue states or inner cities versus suburbs they are sitting around doing whatever the hell they want to with our money to make themselves rich.
They have ad campaigns that tell you how to live the American dream. Never mind that your family owns a home five minutes away from where you work in the old neighborhood downtown. Sell that old raggedy thing and move 200 miles away from the city. Stretch your money to the limit to pay that house note so you can live in this isolated subdivision. Buy two SUV’s and send your kids to private school. Just keep applying for those credit cards and we will keep sending them. You have to do this in order to get away from the inner city as possible. I don’t want anyone to think I am throwing stones in the glass house. My family owns a huge house in
Now, while we are spending all this money and getting full of all that animosity for one another, these assholes have lobbyist who go to Capitol Hill and convince most of your elected officials from both parties to look the other way while they move a few thousand jobs to another country here and inflate their earnings there to please the board of directors and Wall Street. There goes that 401K retirement plan down the drain and it was all orchestrated by some cat with an Ivy League education. We all saw it coming but were so busy isolating ourselves and arguing about who’s a worthy American and who’s not we didn’t do a damn thing about it. Now we are about six months away from having to convert all of our U.S dollars to Chinese Yuan and we are still bailing out companies while no one in charge loses their job or even has to give up a bonus. You would get fired from your job just for sending something to the printer that wasn’t work related. These folks can damn near send America into depression and still have private jets.
It’s so silly that I already know what’s coming next. In the next few weeks this story is going to be twisted somehow and people who probably never set foot in a bank is going to be the reason these institutions had to lie while they squandered our money. We are going to eat that up and they are going to keep on driving the country into the ground. There might be a crazy congressman what will introduce a bill that no one making under twenty thousand a year can have a bank account or anyone who bounces a check has to be sterilized. That’s just what you need to digest the feeling when you go to work and there’s a chain on the door with a sign that says “Company moved to
Saturday, November 22, 2008
How many times will Soledad O’Brien be the messenger of the harsh reality of my life? If it wasn’t for Big Red Cotton I wouldn’t have known this was coming on tonight. I blame this on her.
I love Soledad but she’s playing with my emotions. It took me awhile to get over her Black in America special. This time she chose a more specific way to attack my self esteem. Tonight I watched One Crime at a Time on CNN about crime and corruption in New Orleans. I am now scared to go outside. It’s just what we needed for an economy that depends on tourism to survive. I am not upset with Soledad. She’s just doing her job. I am upset with my city. We just can't get it together. Even though the CNN special was one sided and didn’t acknowledge the numerous positive things going on, nothing that was reported was a lie or over exaggerated. The real question for me is how long before we ask her to come back to report on how much things have changed for the better.
A brother can dream.
Friday, November 21, 2008
Last weekend parents and volunteers built a playground at my daughter’s school. I would say that in total there were about 10 fathers out there working. I spent the entire day watching the mothers of those children shovel mulch, mix concrete, push wheelbarrows and all kinds of other stuff. I was a little disappointed in the lack of men but I didn’t worry about it because I was there and as long as the project got done and the kids had someone to play I was happy. Besides, it’s not out of the realm of possibility that many of those kids don’t have an active father. That’s a sad but true fact. We can’t dwell on it. We just have to keep moving and get things done.
Last night was the Thanksgiving dinner at the school. Miraculously, dozens and dozens of grown ass men managed to show up for the free food. That’s when I got pissed. Some of these cats may have been working so I won't blanket everybody with the same lack of respect. I know that I and the other 8 or 9 dads that volunteered last week weren’t the only ones off from work last Saturday. Those sorry bastards couldn’t get up early on Saturday and dedicate a day to work for the babies but they can come strutting around for a free meal. I wish I was on the dinner committee. I would have taken the microphone and asked for all the parents who volunteered last week to raise their hands. Then I would have fed the kids first, and then the parents who volunteered and if there was anything left after they were full those sorry excuses could have got some cranberry sauce or something. Some families had two or three men with them. There was a young lady who worked on the playground with her mom. I remember her because she hurt her ankle while we were working. She was at the dinner last night with two male family members who sat there while she fixed them a plate. I wanted to take their two plates, put them together and tell her to bring that home to her mom since she was the only one that showed up. The least they could have done is fixed a plate for her. They didn’t do anything but sit their happy asses there and swallow food. I know those babies were happy to have their dads eating with them at school but as a black man who puts everyone’s agenda before his I was personally disgusted and I hope they all got indigestion.
I now know why my grandfather used to just look at certain cats and shake his head. We have to stop giving these guys grown men props when they don’t want to put in any work or make any sacrifice. What kind of community is this going to be? No one has to comment on this if they don’t feel comfortable. I just needed to say it. I need to put my Obama acceptance speech on tonight to bring back the fantasy world. Yes we can!
Thursday, November 20, 2008
I thought these people lost the election.
Secretary of State
White House Chief of Staff
The Clintons and their old soldiers are making out pretty well in this election. When you take that into account along with Robert Gates staying on as Secretary of Defense and Joe Lieberman not walking the plank, I guess when the president-elect was talking about change he meant only him.
Is it ok for black people to start speaking out again? Or is the election gag rule still in effect?
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
They finally demolished my family’s house in the Lower Ninth Ward. Someone broke the news to me last night. I am surprised at how melancholy I have been since I found out. I was going to ride over there and take a picture of the empty but I thought to myself that it would look just like all the other empty lots where homes used to be. People from the Lower Nine have a lot of pride and since Katrina we tend to speak in a romantic tone about our old neighborhood. My old house was no state of the art facility. It was old and battle tested. It was probably in need of a renovation in 1979 when we moved into it. Like most shotgun doubles in
You might read all of that and think to yourself why someone would be upset about not having that anymore. Since Katrina I have seen my mayor and other local leaders, try and tell me how we should be excited about this new bigger and better city. All of those rallying cries are shallow because they are only talking about structures and it has nothing to do with the actual things that made the community what it is. As far as I’m concerned I would take the bus passing and making the room shake, the power going out if you turn the dryer on and didn’t let the button go fast enough and the occasional police siren outside my door if you brought the people back.
Don’t think I am tripping. I have accepted that change is a part of life and you have to adapt to it in order to keep moving. I have been doing that every day. I have to admit though. After 26 years of knowing I could always turn that key and feel secure, three years is not a sufficient amount of time for me not be pissed off about this whole situation. Now that the house is gone I won’t be talking about it anymore. Katrina and the government apathy that followed won that battle. I guess I just miss the rest of my family.
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
It’s also a good thing that the city is populated with enough people I trust to have someone get my daughter to school on time (Thank you Tish.). The young lady is a perfectionist and I didn’t want to listen to her complaining all afternoon about being late and costing her class the homework contest Friday. Have you ever disappointed a five year old and they told you about it and you had no defense? It's not cute. It's a challenge to translate the phrase "shit happens" into five year old language.
I see why GM is losing business. No one wants to buy a truck that comes with a jack big enough to lift a go-cart. I bet my neighbor’s Toyota Tundra has a button that lifts the entire truck five feet off of the ground. I hope no one is on their way to vote on the bailout and catches a flat in a Chevy truck. At least Mr. Williams was on vacation and somehow managed to make it to me five minutes after I called and told him I needed a jack. If he never did anything else for me the rest of my lifetime he and Mr. Brister would still be cemented as the greatest comrades a bad luck joker like me could ever have.
After letting Mr. Williams laugh at the destruction of my tire as payment for getting out of bed on vacation, I came to work and noticed that one of my co-workers has over decorated his cube. Don’t you hate those people who just have too many things in their office space? It was bad enough when he bought that fish tank that’s not really a fish tank. It’s just a picture with fish in it that lights up and makes water noise. That’s tacky. That’s just like those picture of the waterfalls they sell on the street. Now he has this thing that looks a garden gnome. Every time I walk past this crazy looking thing it’s eyes follows me down the hall. When I walk pass his desk I get the same feeling Michael Jackson’s neighbors must have felt when they looked out at Neverland Ranch. What does a grown man need all that for?
All you can do with a morning like that is get a cup of coffee, put on your headphones at the desk and zone out New Orleans style. This song will help you relax.
The rest of the day wasn't as bad except for my hands smelling like brake dust.
Monday, November 17, 2008
I’m not a genius or anything and some things confuse me because they go against what I see for my own two eyes. However, I’m not afraid to ask for an explanation from someone with better understanding. I have tried my best to understand the issues with the city’s sanitation contract. I have read the issues with the contract itself. I understand the concerns of the city council. I think I have a good idea of what’s going on. The problem I have is this. With the free for all state of the city’s recovery, how could anyone negotiate a contract for sanitation pickup to begin with? How can anyone possibly know how many people are really living here and where they are going to live to sign into any long term deal? Couldn't we have avoided all of this drama and not signed anything long term for a few years?
In the last few months I know five people personally that have moved back into the city. There are three houses on my block that will be moved into any minute. There’s two major apartment complexes almost completed in New Orleans East. What about all the mixed income housing that is being built in place of the projects? Surely many of those displaced families will be moving back into the city. How could the city or any of the sanitation companies that were rewarded a contract know what they were getting into? These contracts were written up in 2006. The difference in
Wouldn’t the best thing for everyone have been to award a six month contract to the best proposal and then re-opened everything for bidding after we seen how many people actually came back to the city? Then, if the recovery was still in the same condition it is now we could have extended it another six months. I can’t imagine not finding any companies to take that six month contract knowing that if they did a good job they would be under high consideration for a longer one.
Shouldn’t we have had a separate contract just for debris pickup since the Road Home process was so slow that some people are just starting to repair their homes?
I don’t understand how a city with a sporadic recovery like we have could make any guarantees on things like sanitation for more than six months at a time.
Can someone who reads this please clear this up for me?
Saturday, November 15, 2008
My back and legs are killing me. That’s because today I participated in the playground build at KIPP Central City Academy. The build was led by a great organization called Kaboom. We remodeled the entire courtyard. I didn’t know they were planting gardens and painting the basketball court. As far as days in New Orleans go, it was a pretty good one. On behalf of all the parents whose kids will be the first ones to play on it next week I just want to say thanks to all the volunteers. I can’t remember every group but I want to recognize St. Michael Family Missions, the folks from California working with Common Ground, the kids from Newman High School, Country Day High School, and the small army of students from Xavier University. We never would have gotten through those 140 cubic yards of mulch without you.
My allergic reaction to being corny will keep me from saying something really mushy. Let’s just say that with all the things going on around the world and this city it was good to see that many people from all different walks of life having a good time and helping the kids. I do have a few observations from the day.
• Black DJs have to get a more diverse set of records to play. I don’t know why I found the fact he was playing Lollipop by Lil Wayne in front of all those volunteers so funny. The funniest part of the day was later in the day when Wild Wayne from Q93 told all those kids singing some rap song that it was time to recite their multiplication tables.
• Whenever you volunteering for something always wear over size clothes so people can’t see your size and ask you to pick up on everything heavy.
• The site of pretty college girls shoveling mulch and pushing wheelbarrows warms your heart inside.
• Always find out ahead of time what the colors or symbols on your name tag designate. This could be the difference between mixing concrete and re-painting the map of America on the blacktop.
• I sure wish the mayor and city council would have stopped by and carried a few loads of mulch or drilled a few holes. I guess they were busy exchanging emails.
• There was an old white lady from somewhere in the city. She was shoveling mulch next to an 8 year old little black girl from the neighborhood. They were both filling up the loads for me and a white teacher from California with a Mohawk to carry together. I won’t say anything corny but I will dedicate this song to the entire group.
It was a good day and that school is full of great people.
Friday, November 14, 2008
Councilwoman Stacy Head was right to be upset if our Sanitation Director Veronica White was lying to her about information she wanted to see. I don’t have a problem with her being upset and I am tired of departments in this city not being open about what we are actually paying for. This is not about who's right or wrong. My only concern is that it seems like every few weeks there’s some argument in council chambers and afterward nothing seems to get resolved.
I wish they would just call one another on the phone or walk to each others office and blow off this steam in private. After that they could come out together and have a press conference announcing this great change to the sanitation contract that will save the city millions that we can spend on something else around town. That would be a welcome change from the public bickering. When you argue like that everyone loses sight of the real issue. We have enough anger and outrage already. Just get things done. I know one thing, if my street starts stinking because everyone was too busy fussing to approve the sanitation budget I am going to be pissed and it won’t matter who was right or wrong. If we don’t take the anger and bitterness out of this city we are headed for another election with votes based on anything but competence.
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
Sometimes I feel like we can’t do anything right in Louisiana. Take our local KKK faction for instance. Here we have the first black president energizing racists to such a high level that it could possibly be a resurgence in activity that would make David Duke proud. What does the leader of the Dixieland KKK go and do? He killed a potential female recruit and threw her body in the woods. That’s total incompetence at the highest redneck level. The original grand wizards are rolling over in their grave. Now he and seven of his comrades including his son are headed to the pin. Let this be a valuable lesson going forward for the rest of the KKK out there. Killing your potential members is not a good recruiting tool. I am afraid that with such a major portion of the Dixieland group gone, someone’s wife/cousin is going to have to pick up the pieces. For all you folks that think racism is something practiced by older people who grew up in the 40’s 50’s and 60’s, pay close attention to the ages of the people arrested.
Mental Note : Find Sun, Louisiana on the map and never stop for gas or directions.
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
I have an idea since it’s Veterans Day. These people leave their families, communities and careers for months at a time and have no control over how long they have to stay there, why don’t we create a law that says whenever they come home and go back to civilian life everything on their credit is cleared and their kids get to go to a public college if they choose to. If you put your life on the line you shouldn’t have to deal with a bill collector calling when you come back. I wouldn’t mind my tax dollars going towards that. If we can buy into private companies then we can take care of these cats.
I would like to give some shots out to all the veterans especially my dad, my grandpa, Shawn, Steve, Ronald, Mr. Henry, and the late Taft Williams.
That guy in the picture is one handsome soldier.
Monday, November 10, 2008
For the first time in awhile I spent some time down in the Lower Ninth Ward this weekend. I saw a few family members. I had a few bowls of gumbo. I went to see my family house for one last time since someone told me there was a demolition sign on it. I ended up standing next to the big oak tree outside of it talking to my childhood best friend for a few hours. He was visiting his mom who’s back in her house on the block. When you spend almost everyday with someone for over 15 years you can start talking and lose a few hours easily. He’s the only guy that shares every memory from that block. That was a much needed reunion as I was slipping into one of those after Katrina feelings of detachment. I was amazed at how many people drove by and blew their horn at us. It’s like hardly anyone lives where they used to but they just drive down there to check on the neighborhood. I thought I was the only fool who did that. It felt like 1988 without our neighbors or businesses.
While I was down there I drove over to
Brad Pitt had a radical idea for hurricane recovery. He presented a plan, people gave him money to do it, and then he did what he said he was going to do. Sometimes great plans are very simplistic. I was wondering. Has the city council or the mayor recognized this man for this work? Has he gotten a key to the city? Does he get to ride in the Zulu parade? What about a good pot of red beans? Maybe we can give him and Angelina a second line in their honor when they are in town. I would like to nominate Mr. Pitt for a new position in the city. He should be the Director of Doing Exactly What You Said You Were Going to Do.
Sunday, November 9, 2008
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Saturday, November 8, 2008
I love Leonard Pitts. He summed it up best.
Since Hurricane Katrina I have been a very pessimistic person. I don’t carry myself that way. It’s an internal thing. I have been detached mentally. It's the reason I spend more time alone than I ever thought I would. I figure I must be insane because as detached as I feel I continue to stay engaged. In spite of that I have to say that the sight of a man who looks like me win the presidency feels pretty good. Even the bitter racists couldn't spoil it. I think it’s fascinating because so many things happened that I didn’t think Americans had in them. The question now is just how deep this new feeling goes.
Is anyone ready now to get on board with me and say that Oprah Winfrey was the unsung most valuable player in this whole scenario? I said it back in February. When a brother is trying to get a job in a certain environment, the easiest way for that to happen is for someone who’s already there validates him. Oprah already had the status in
The fact that William Jefferson could possibly be headed back to
I have bad vibes about this city master plan decision. Everyone keeps saying the citizens will have input. It will be interesting to see what citizens they are talking about. Everyone knows there is a neighborhood pecking order. I’m begging someone in the city to please promote the day and times of these meetings at least two weeks before they happen. I think something this important deserves a few dollars in advertising.
Technology has been very good to me. Between the Internet and my career it has really enhanced my life. The negative about technology is useless communication. The worst form of this next to spam e-mail is chain text messages. You know when you are sitting at work and your phone starts making noise. You stop working to look at it and it's yet another joke, or something inspirational you are supposed to send to 10 people. I hate those. Well, this week has broken the record for chain text messages about the election. This goes out to everyone who reads this blog and has my cell number. I know you guys are inspired and excited but the next time I get the same text message ten times from ten different people about Barack or Michelle Obama I am going to send out a group message cussing everybody. Stop jamming up the information highway and do some work.
In my last post I said I decided to no longer read my local newspaper website. That did not apply to Big Red Cotton. Stay strong over there. I know those comments got a little rough.
Thursday, November 6, 2008
There's a lot of unnecessary tension and fear around the south. I'm afraid that for the first time in 20 years I will no longer be listening to any talk radio. I had already decided to stop reading my hometown paper's website because of the comment section at the bottom. Some of those comments come right out of the KKK recruiting pamphlet. I am not going to sit here and pretend that some of you are not just racists who are used to minorities knowing their place. That’s a real thing but I’ll be fair and say that not all of you voted for McCain just because of that reason. Some of you think McCain was the best candidate and that’s fine. Some of you however are real ignorant with a backwards and dangerous way of thinking. One of my close friends called me pissed off after listening to a talk show the day of the election. I calmed him down and thought how sad that was he felt that way since he’s a veteran and a model citizen. One of the things that makes life down here so confusing sometimes is that I have seen white guys come up to him and shake his hand to thank him for his service. We even got some free seafood one night because of it. We know it's not everybody but its enough to make you pay attention to everybody.
One guy called a local talk show and said people had a right to be scared since they were about to lose 200 years of freedom. I found that amusing since A. America is more than 200 years old. B. My people haven't been free that long. and C. I don't remember anything in Civics class that said if anyone of color gets elected president reverse slavery is automatically instituted. That was ignorant and I hope there aren't too many people living around me who think like this. Your isolated suburban area was still the same Wednesday morning just like my neighborhood was.
Listen, we are just as American as you. As a matter of fact, even if we wanted to leave we wouldn’t have a homeland to go to. There are black people from the south in the Middle East right now fighting. Don't you all cheer and pamper big black men that play football at your colleges? When 9/11 happened I cried just like you. When the Olympics were taking place this year I watched Michael Phelps and the other American athletes and cheered for them just like you. We were fighting and dying for this place when we couldn't vote, shop, work, or sit and eat in certain places. Obama winning does absolutely nothing to your freedom. It just makes me feel better about mine. That’s why most black people got emotional. We know the words to the Star Spangled Banner. It just sounds a little different when we sing it. That’s nothing to be afraid of. Just try to keep the beat, keep living your lives and hope the next president makes it even better. Calm down before something crazy happens.
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
I don’t live in a fantasy world. There are some areas of this country where things are not right and in most of the areas the faces and color resemble my own. It’s been hard the last few years to maintain that optimism. You turn on the news or pick up the paper and see story after story of the worst of your community. You start getting beat down by it and think that things are never going to change. That's why I never really jumped on the bandwagon.
As I walked out of my house this morning and saw my half abandoned flood damaged neighborhood and drove to work this morning passing the familiar areas of trouble I knew the circumstances were still there even after the first African American president was elected. There is lots of work to do. That kind of ignorance and pain isn't going anywhere anytime soon.
Yesterday morning I got up and stood in line for more than an hour with all kinds of people in my community from different backgrounds. They all had a look in their eyes like they were about to experience something special. I stood in line in front of three guys who on any other day would scare people by the way they look. They were actually making space for the old ladies on the walkers to get through and fussing at one another for cussing in line in front of all the people. There was the family there and I watched a mother and father coach their teenage sons who were voting for the first time on how the voting machines work. That was the first moment I realized that it didn’t matter if Obama won. As far as I am concerned he had already delivered for me what I needed. I needed to know that there is still a possibility that these brothers and sisters out here that are doing things in the wrong manner can be motivated to try and do the right thing. I needed to see that in the voting line yesterday. I’m glad the final payoff happened too.
Barak Obama won’t be sworn in until January. There are some local issues that I am not too happy about that were on the ballot yesterday. I am sure somewhere in the country today there are some pissed off people. There is also much real work to be done. We can discuss all that later. I don’t feel like debating and listening to all of that. I just want to soak up that hope I got yesterday. I need as much possible for the grind that’s ahead of us. Enough dues were paid by a whole bunch of people to enjoy this one for a few days. I want to experience what endless possibility feels like without people jamming my thoughts.
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
Monday, November 3, 2008
I'm waking up early in the morning. I am getting dressed for work. Before that I am going to stand in this line and exercise my right to vote because people died for that. Maybe about this time tomorrow night history will be made.
I am 34 years old. When my grandfather was my age he couldn't vote at all. I am sure no one during that time thought they would get a chance to vote the way we will be tomorrow. I did my best to down play that idea for months but now that we are on the eve of election night I can't do it any longer. Most black people probably know someone whom they wish were still alive to be a part of this thing. Anybody in America who really loves it should be proud of the fact we have gotten to this point. Things may not be perfect but this scenario means the system might work the way it's supposed to. I can't see how that's bad for anyone going forward.
No one really knows what's going to happen. All I can say is that no matter what happens you have to stay engaged and pay attention. Like I said before, change is going to come from everyone. It's too bad the potential sight of Congressman Jefferson winning is going to put a damper on my evening. I'm optimistic about this one turning out the right way too. It's going to be a big night.