Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The Changeling

In fairy tales, a changeling is a creature that can take the shape of anyone or anything. Old English folktales say that the "wee folk" or fairies would kidnap human babies and replace them with changelings who then terrorized their parents as they grew up.

The concept of changelings pops up in many science fiction and fantasy stories with names like "shapeshifters" in Robert Silverberg's Majipoor Chronicles and "face dancers" in Frank Hebert's amazing Dune series. In most tales, these creatures disdain or even hate humans and typically use their powers to cause mischief and mayhem.

Barack Obama is a changeling.

Wait, don't leave. I'm not criticizing Obama, and I haven't abandoned his candidacy like so many others seem to be doing in the wake of his comments about Rev. Wright.

No, my labeling of Obama as a changeling is not to denigrate him, but rather to illuminate one reason I believe he's catching so much flak these days. Because of his charisma, optimism, education and black skin, Barack Obama has done something every politician attempts to do, but often fails to accomplish. More importantly, at times he's even managed this feat without even trying.

Obama has made us see what we want to see.

When I say us, I don't mean the predominately black crowd that reads this blog. I'm using the larger "us," the "us" that includes all voters and really all American citizens. If there is one thing this election has reinforced, it's that in America perception, not reality, is king, and managing perception is the most important job of any public figure.

First, let's talk about what white folks seem to see when they look at Obama.

Obama is articulate, he's clean, well-educated, calm, funny and beyond race. He's a polished man who has succeeded despite his race, not because of his race, unless you count how his race has benefited him. Got that?

He grew up poor with a white parent and white grandparents, so he understands the plight of white and black America. Except, sometimes he's not black enough when he takes a break from being too black. He's his own man, but he's clearly being led around by shady characters in his past. He's complex and unique, but he's pretty easy to figure out if you know a little about the rest of them.

Ultimately, he's black, although he's only half-black so how can he really be black?

Black folks see Obama as a savior, messiah, credit to his race whose only flaw is that he's probably an Oreo, race-traitor who is going to turn out like the rest of them as soon as he gets some power.

Don't forget he put himself through college, but it was an Ivy League school, and he married a sister, but I'm sure he still secretly likes white girls. Obama is good at speeches, but he never has anything to say about black issues, although he gave that great speech about race, but he was almost forced to do that. Obama seemed to care about his Pastor, but now he's thrown that pastor under the bus, although the pastor seemed to want the bus to stop a lot for him to get off and make speeches.

After all, Obama is black, only he's actually half-black so can we really trust him?

If those previous passages weren't confusing, then y'all are smarter than me. Just typing those paragraphs gave me a headache, I can only imagine what it's like to live them. I've said many times that I doubt I would ever have the desire to put myself through the type of mental and emotional obstacle course Obama has volunteered for and just for his resolve I respect him.

That doesn't mean I agree with everything Obama does. I think Obama has allowed far too many people to project their values and expectations on to him. That he has allowed himself to be defined by an irresponsible media and a delusional public. While I don't think Obama has actively pursued his changeling status, he has done nothing to really rid himself of it.

I've read Obama's book, I understand that much of his young life was spent defining himself as a black man in America. That he constantly wrestled with creating an identity that made him comfortable and propelled him towards his goals.

Yet, I feel he has lost that sense of self. That he has allowed this campaign and all of its stress to move him away from the identity that made him so appealing in the first place. Yes, Obama has always sought alliances and forged compromises, but now it is time for him to strike out on a solitary path that only he can create.

It is time for Obama to shed the cocoon of expectations. He can no longer afford to depend on others to do the right thing, to behave and play by the rules they have set forth. He must now force this country to come to grips with who he really is, and cause us to love that person. This is imperative he wants to not only to win this election but actually wants to truly change some things in our federal government.

The changeling must reveal his true form.


The Christian Progressive Liberal said...

You stated this issue in eloquent fashion, Big Man. Thanks.

It's not about supporting Obama at all costs just to see a Brotha in the White House; it's about his willingness to be his own man, and as you said, he's a changeling and has obliged too many people by trying to be everything to everybody.

Which only means that should he get the White House, I don't want to hear any pissing and moaning if this brotha gets the White House and turns into another Bill Clinton.

If you don't support Obama, you're a Handkerchief Head; if you support the Borg Queen, well, you get the picture.

Why can't we ask the brotha to clearly state his platform and not platitudes and cliches?

Gye Greene said...

As always, great insights in your post. (I'm living in Australia, so it's good to get the "inside scoop" (no journalism pun intended) on what's up with the Presidental race.

Two points:

1) It's a Jedi mind trick. Which ain't necessarily bad.

2) In my younger days, I predicted that Bill Cosby (back in his family-friendly sit-com days) should run for Pres., because he's a universally-appealing guy (who, yeah, was black). So, maybe Obama has some of that.


Big Man said...


I think Obama has stated many different plans for his tenure. I didn't attend for my post to be an attack on Barack.

Rather, I meant it as a gentle prod in the right direction; or what would be a gentle prod if I actually knew Obama.

He needs to step it up because many people are working to see him fail. He needs to understand that he cannot play the game the way it is currently set up and hope to win. He needs to change the game, or he's going to get played in one way or another.

WNG said...

Great post Big Man,but...
"He must now force this country to come to grips with who he really is, and cause us to love that person. This is imperative he wants to not only to win this election but actually wants to truly change some things in our federal government."
And then he should raise the dead and have a square dance. I think you're asking for the impossible. Now that's never been a reason for me not to want something or try for something, but I think we all need to be a little more realistic.
I don't think he needs to 'play the game' in fact every time he tries he looks like an idiot.
I don't want to hear about Wright or the Weathermen or any other crap anymore. Talk to me about my friends dying in Iraq. Talk to me about stopping the rice riots. Talk to me about how I'm going to afford rent and gas in the same month. There is some serious ish going on in the world right now and I'm tired of hearing things like 'Wright is his Iraq'. That's a slap in the face to every family member and friend who lost a soldier over there. He needs to flip the media hil Hillary finger and get back to talking to the people.
Sorry to ramble...

Big Man said...

Appreciate the comment WNG.

I think you are right, but as a member of the corporate media, I understand how we set the national agenda no matter what the candidates want. So, Obama is not going to force the media to stop talking about Wright by saying there are more important things to discuss. What he needs to do is make it unprofitable for them to discuss Wright.

WNG said...

:) And how does he do that? Actually I think that's what the REST of us need to do. Stop buying, stop watching, stop giving them money to talk about stupid ish and only support actual helpful discourse. It's what I'm doing. Feel free to join me.

Torrance Stephens bka All-Mi-T said...

so either he is a charlatan or the ant christ - obama LOL

Lolo said...

He says the same thing he's been saying since he started.

It ain't working the way it is, it ain't gonna work unless enough of us get together and make ourselves heard, it ain't gonna change if we just keep on accepting that dirty is the only way to work it.

Well he get dirtied up? Well, probably. But damnit, can we at least get him there so that he can enter starting off at cleaner than anyone that has ever had a chance at it in the last fifty years??

WNG said...

Amen lolo!

Truthiz said...

Great post Big Man_and your title is on the mark!

Here are my thoughts on the subject:

Barack (a man of mixed heritage) has probably been a “Changeling” most of his life, having learned early that he had to be, in order to survive 2 conflicting worlds he’s been forced to navigate since birth_ Black and White.

The dilemma he now finds himself confronted with stems from the ever-present “catch 22” reality of his life_he’s “too Black” to be white_period. And yet, still NOT quite "Black enough" for many Black folks.

Moreover there's a percentage of Blacks and Whites Americans who don't ever want to see a "real" Change in this country. Races coming together to work towards forming that "more perfect Union" Barack always speaks of, working on Real solutions_H*LL that scares that Evil-azz, CONnniving crowd to death! It's a threat to their psyche, their very identity, reason for getting up in the morning AND way of life.

For them, Barack is Always going to be d*mned if does _and d*mned if he doesn’t _meet their “expectations”, no matter how ridicules, unfair, and unreasonable their expectations may be!

But your last paragraph and last sentence state, correctly, what Barack must now do. In fact, it’s past-time that he do it!

“It is time for Obama to shed the cocoon of expectations. He can no longer afford to depend on others to do the right thing, to behave and play by the rules they have set forth. He must now force this country to come to grips with who he really is, and cause us to love that person.”

“The changeling must reveal his true form.”

Raving Black Lunatic