Sunday, July 1, 2007

Are we ready?

I had dinner, drinks, smiles and belly laughs with two very wonderful friends on Friday evening. It was a delight to have conversations about things and people that are interesting, fascinating, compelling, and sometimes maddening. It was a joy to laugh, talk, wonder and commiserate about things and people I really do care about. It was sublime to sit with people who are compassionate and passionate about the world and the work that they are doing in it. It was sheer bliss to be in the presence of two women educators and writers who give a damn about something other than their navels.

In the midst of our verbal meandering the question of whether the country (the people, not the rulers) is ready for Obama as president. Are we more ready for Obama than we are for Hilary? Or put more simply, are we more ready for a Black man than we are for a white woman as president? I emphatically said that we aren't ready for a Black man as president. In that moment I couldn't find the words to explain why, but I just know that we aren't.

The first thing that came to mind is the fact that driving while black or brown continues to be an issue for so many people. It's also an integral part of the rite of passage for certain young men in this country. Police, highway patrol, sheriffs, and other (usually) white men believe it is their God-given right and a matter of routine to pull over cars driven by or ridden in by black and brown men. This is only one symptom of what's beneath the surface of America's collective conscious. The knee-jerk responses of the unconscious reveal a lot of unfinished business in a personal and collective sense. What is routine can sometimes be motivated by emotions that we're not aware of. I'm talking fear. Why might any person in the United States be afraid of or angry with a black man in a position of power? Talk amongst yourselves about the possible answers to that question.

Then I started talking about the fact that so much of what's lurking beneath the surface of all of our conscious minds about race is never discussed. The same is true for gender, but since I've been blessed to have both issues intimately intertwined with my day to day life and the legacies I've inherited, it's not possible for me deal with them separately. However, that's a topic for another post. Or for an essay, article or book.

There's never been any healing done around all of the history. There's a legacy of discomfort with the mere idea of black men holding positions of power. And have you noticed how many high profile people of color are forced to take the fall for their corrupt and inept bosses? One doesn't have to even jog one's memory to think of two or three names.

J told me that I should write about this. I'm just getting started.
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