Thursday, March 5, 2009

My Bar is Low

I read this story that had me chuckling the other day.

It was about President Obama attending a Wizards game and getting into a friendly trash talking match with one of the fans sitting near courtside. The heckler, although he said he wasn't really "heckling" the president, was actually wearing one of those bootleg Obama t-shirts that are so popular among black folks. Anyway, the Wizards eventually smashed Obama's team the Bulls, and the guy says that going back and forth with the president was easily one of the most important moments of his life.

That's so cool. (Y'all can check out the full story here.)

I told that anecdote because it made me think about way Obama affects folks, particularly black folks. I've written about it many times, but every once in a while I get reminded of how proud black people are of Obama, and how invested they are in his success. You can almost feel the emotional connection people have to this man they have never met in their lives, the way they feel empowered by his accomplishments. In addition, it's impossible to ignore how many black folks want him to do well.

Which brings me to my point.

I would like to see Obama succeed, mainly because he's the first black president, but also because I live in America and if he fails, my life is going to get a lot more difficult. Yet, I realized recently that my criteria for his success have changed recently.

See, during the election, I kind of wanted him to right all the wrongs of the last eight years and make America into the country I know it has the potential to be. But, that's changed.

Now I just want him to prevent the collapse of civilization.

I'm not saying that's going to be easy, considering all the problems we have in this country, but y'all do have to admit that's definitely not setting the bar too high. I mean, I'm not worried about universal healthcare, or prison reforms, or the black family structure. I just don't want the world to turn into what Octavia Butler described in the Parable of the Sower.

Some folks may claim that I'm moving the goalposts, that I'm giving Obama a pass on his campaign promises and that I'n not being fair or smart. Those people may be right. But, I'm not worried about what they think.

The world is rapidly spinning out of control and I'm not really interested in testing my mettle in a post-Apocalyptic America. I don't want to find out if I can scrounge for food, or hunt game or protect my family from marauding bands of crazies. I don't want to find my inner Mad Max.

I just want to go to work, get a pay check and live what I consider a normal life. Increasingly, that's beginning to look a lot like paradise.

Y'all think I want too much?



Darth Whitey said...

I agree, his task is much more fundamental now, but I still want out of Iraq completely (none of this 50,000 troops!! he promised!! boo! hiss!!!), and I still want my health care, and I still want the crooks put in jail.

This is why I voted for him. Honestly if it's a matter of preventing civilization's collapse, I think the Clintons would have been better for that. Obama was supposed to be the visionary or something, bold new way.

Let's hope we can get out of this mess before two years are up or he's toast, and he'll not have gotten to anything on his mandate.

Lolo said...

His racial identity was always, and still is, the cherry on top. It's the rest of the package that made me give up most of my daily life for months to the campaign. He hasn't done a single thing that makes me feel like there's been any rope a dope and I continue to pray for his, our country's, success and well being.

Anonymous said...

BM, I'm with you. Just knowing that I will be housed and have my basic needs met without living like its 1880 sounds really good.

The world is going crazy and sadly the reality that it could get a whole lot worse before it gets better is real.

So yeah, while I would love if he could follow through on many of his campaign promises, right now stopping the economic collapse of the US is top priority.

Deacon Blue said...

I'm laughing my ass off at this post in a big way. Mrs. Blue and I have been talking a lot about the fact that if civilization crashes, we're probably dead meat. We'll be trying to grow some lame-ass garden for food in our yard while fending off rifle-wielding hooligans...and chances are we won't fare well.

From the start, my only expecatations of Obama were to fix SOME of the damage and now, as you point out, more importantly to keep things from spiralling out of control.

In the meantime, I'm gonna go see how I look in dusty leather clothes and start working on my hand/eye coordination before I go to Wal-Mart for a shotgun or two...or know, in case I have to go all Mad Max/28 Days Later/Parable of the Sower/The Stand/Etc. soon

Lisa J said...

I agree too. I think O is exceptional and can keep us from the end of civilization and I think he will suprise us with how much he can get done too. I also feel you on how much us black folks are invested in Obama. I had a white "friend" more a friend of friend or friendly acquaintence who sent me this nasty "jokey" e-mail about Obama, slamming his economic plan, etc and I sent her a note back point blank saying I disagreed with the e-mail and did not want to receive any thing else from her in that vein about Obama. She came back with a bunch of right wing crap about socialism, not wanting to work so lazy people, esp illegal foreigners, could live off of her, blah, blah, blah. I told her that was fine, but the President had only just come in, I gave Bush the benefit of the doubt initally and reiterated, No more anti Obama-propaganda (I used that exact term) period dot. I wanted to say, "how freaking culturally tone deaf are you to send a black person who you know is a Dem something slamming the first black president." Shoot even most of the right-leaning black folks like the man. Even Condi Rice lights up like a Christmas tree when the man's name comes up. Plus she knows I am a Dem (though I am now registered Green) b/c I worked on Capitol Hill when I met her years ago and she knew who I worked for. I wonder about folks at times.

Oh and I agree about wanting him to succeed I mean in terms of our economic well-being I wanted Bush to succeed and do not get the right-wingers saying they hope he fails. Do they want to lose more of their retirement, their savings, their jobs, and/or have their standard of living eroded? Crazy!

MacDaddy said...

No, I don't think your expectations are too high.

I, too, am very proud of Obama. But I know he's no miracle worker. In terms of the economy, my expectations have lowered. Instead of expecting Obama to right everything and get the economy totally stabilized, I'm now hoping that, by the end of his first term, he will have gotten the economy firmly on recovery mode with foreclosures significantly reduced, people able to get loans, businesses rehiring, and everyone getting some form of healthcare.

Big Man said...

Mac Daddy

Those sound like good standards.

Folks, I'm not trying to say let's give Obama a pass. I'm really not. I want healthcare, and prison reform, and drug law reform and a whole host of other things I am convinced would make this country more equitable.

But, it's real right now. I mean, everytime I hear some news from Cali, I'm convinced that state is about to sink into anarchy. As a Chrsitian I try to remain strong in my faith, but this news is bleak. Do y'all realize that 639,000 people lost their jobs last month? I keep wondering what's going to happen when these people get tired of playing by the rules and starting saying "eff it."

The rich won't suffer first. They have the money to protect themselves. I'm more concerned with regular folks like me who aren't rich, but who aren't poor either. Those are the people most vulnerable when society begins to crack.

Anonymous said...

My only goal for Obama for the next month is to find someway to get a permanent muzzle put on Rush Limbaugh's mouth.

Big Man, read today's letter.

Darth Whitey said...

Lisa J:

You are exhibit A for making AG Holder's case.

How is any white person ever to criticize POLICY from this president if black folks are going to fly off the handle all but accusing them of being racist for doing so? What difference does it make that this criticism came from a white person? Is Michael Steele racist?

And it disturbs me that it offended you that someone of different political affiliation would even reach out to you, jokingly or not. This right-left divide is toxic and you're part of the problem. I find that `belonging' to ANY political party is absurd, it implies enemies are abound.

Sorry to come down so hard but I guess I'm just racist for critiquing your remarks I guess, how dare I!

Lisa J said...

So you are trying to dicate how I feel, sounds like someone is a little over privileged and think it is their place to try to control my emotions and tell me that how I feel is wrong. If I feel offended I feel offended and it is none of your business. Also did I say this person was racist, no? I said it was INSENITIVE b/c she knew I was a Dem and she sent me a note that was filled with lies about Obama being a socialist and trying to destroy the middle class, and then spewed some serious anti-immigrant rhetoric. Also, I would think that most people should realize that given the racism in this country that blacks had and have to endure that we as a group are very pleased with our new president and if you are going to come at him, come at him correct and with a load of false platitudes especially less than 6 weeks into his administration. I told her not to send me propaganda, if it had been a meaningul discussion outlining some grievances that is fine and I told her if he scrwed up genuinely I would recognize that but it just spewed things that were not based in reality. SHe knew my politics and said me something mocking them in a cavalier untrue way and I'm supposed to appreciate that.

YOU are the one who is part of the problem in talking about race in this country that AG Holder was talking about b/c YOU as a white person and part of the mainstream are from the school of thought that says that anytime someone is black and they get upset about something and point out that there is a racial aspect to it, we are overracting, we are making it up being to sensittie and so on and so on, thus silencing the debate and dismissing the minority.

Big Man said...


I was going to respond, but you took care of it.

Darth, let me make it simple.

White people can say whatever they want. Black people can then say whatever they want.

That's freedom of speech.

What cannot happen, is that a white person is going to say what they want, and then dictate to black folks how they are entitled to respond. See, that ain't gonna fly.

If you're feelings get hurt by being called a racist, that's too bad. Lisa is saying her feelings were hurt by her friend's insensitive remarks and you're telling her that's unimportant. Why should your feelings be more important than hers?

Because you're white?

Just think about it.

Lolo said...

That is a question I have, for Lisa and others ~ since Obama's taken office, how many NON white people have voiced antipathy or disappointment with the administration to you, personally?

I know a fair number of people that are slipping farther down the ladder and the ones who are compaining most bitterly about the President's stimulus plan and housing rescue are also, perhaps coincidentally, white. I just pull back and point out that it took a whole lots of years of "trickle down" to be exposed for the Ponzi scheme that it is and ask them if they are unwilling to even wait a hundred days before wagging their fingers with "I told you so".

Moose said...

I think that steady progress is what we should expect from Obama, based on his campaign promises and the reality of the situation. If he brings this country back on it's feet, however slowly, he will be re-elected and celebrated as one of our best presidents. Bush left him with a huge mess. If he starts to clean it up, he will quiet the doubters. Just for context, I am white and I am an Obama supporter (I campaigned for him in NH as well).

Darth Whitey said...

"how freaking culturally tone deaf are you to send a black person who you know is a Dem something slamming the first black president."

Hrm. Your explanations notwithstanding-- in which you both raised good points, I dunno but if I were on the business end of such a remark I'd sure think you were calling me a racist and telling me I don't have a right to criticize the "first black president" because I'm "culturally insensitive."

BM, I don't see what my being white has to do with it, why do you always want to bring this back to race? We're talking policy here. Leave race out of it.

Is it racist of me to say that President Obama lied to me when he said he'd get us out of Iraq?

Imhotep said...

"Now I just want him to prevent the collapse of civilization."

Big Man, turn off that fox new, put away that Octavia Butler and get a grip. End of civilization, really! You make it seems like I should run out and buy automatic weapons.

Bro, things are indeed bad and will probably get worse, but I don't sense the kind of desperation and panic that could lead to the collapse of any viable civilization. I'll say that many, many folks will experience their own personal collapse--loss of job, home, fractured family-- but I don't think civilization as we know it will be shaken.

Big Man said...


Didn't you tell Lisa she was "Exhibit A" in Eric Holder's case? Which means you basically called her a coward when it came to race, because she got upset when she felt somebody was doing something disrespectful towards black people.

And now you're asking me WHY I had to bring things back to race? You brought Eric Holder into the conversation which means that not only did you want to discuss race, you had the audacity to call somebody a coward because of their feelings about race.

Come on man, you're being illogical.

The point is that you cannot expect people to react the way you want them to react. Lisa was offended by her friends remarks and she felt her criticisms of Obama weren't factually based and were racially tinged. From Lisa's experience, (and I'm guessing on this) I would wager that she's found that many white people are less willing to give black folks a fair shot. I've seen the same thing.

So she was pissed and that's her right.

Big Man said...


Man, you might be right.

But, it's not just the sci-fi.

You ever read Randall Robinson's second bood? The name escapes me, but it came after his first critically acclaimed book on black America.

Anyway, he describes a South American country in their, El Salvador I believe. And he talks about the rich/poor divide and how that's affected quality of life and security.

Then I look to our south and I see Mexico falling apart at the seams, and I wonder, why couldn't that happen here?

Imhotep said...

Big Man, Not sure of the book you speak of, but if RRobinson wrote it, it probably had more to do with the destabilization of a central or s. american government from an outside force. High unemployment and hyperinflation are not uncommon in latin america, and civilization has not collapse.

I think we're witnessing the short comings and myths of capitalism, more so that the crash of civilization.

Raving Black Lunatic