Nearly everyone I know in the US sent me either a link or the actual full
text of Barack Obama's speech at Constitution Center in Philadelphia on 18
March. And I read various comments and news reports about the significance
of the speech. And so this afternoon, I finally sat down and read it.
Now I think I understand a bit how my parents felt about John F. Kennedy. As
a child, I always took it as a "fact" that he was a great man. But he lived
for me on the same plane as Abraham Lincoln — before my time (JFK was
assassinated when I was 1 1/2). I knew my mother got quite emotional
whenever she talked about that time and the hope "everyone" felt, but I
didn't grow up in a hopeful world. I grew up in a world of Watergate. I
lived in Chicago the day they kicked all the mentally ill people out of the
institutions and onto the streets. I lived in San Francisco during the
height of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Iran Contra, the clandestine operations in
Latin America, the astonishing increase in the gap between rich and poor, a
minimum wage that even a single person cannot live on, so many wars and
propped up tyrannical dictators I've lost count, the politics of fear and
scarcity — this has been the America of my lifetime.
And now comes Barack Obama. With hope. He embodies hope, he speaks hope, he
operates from hope. It's catching. I think I may be getting the hope flu.
I must say that I've been guilty of the same sin as Rev. Wright. That is,
believing that US society cannot change, at least not with respect to
racism. Because of that, I found Obama's speech astonishing. Exciting.
Amazing. That we could actually look right at the issues of racism and not
brush them under the carpet (could we really?); that we could tell the truth
about all the different factors that keep this whole set of structures in
place (no kidding?); that we could talk about the real issues in America
that affect all of us (and the sky won't fall?). . . It makes me almost
You know, if Obama gets elected, I might just seriously consider joining the