Reading Dreams of My Father. Here it is, straight from the horses mouth. I hadn’t known of this book. I am almost the last to know. I only found out his middle name is Hussein at the coronation. I had always thought the Tea Party made that up to taunt him. After some sputtering I realized this is actually a priceless gift to the people we have hurt the most in the past decade, Arabs, now have a moral-spiritual claim upon the Character of our Presidency.
But, of course, I voted for Obama, because if anyone needed a role model, it were our willing and spirited minorities. Now, of course, I realized during his campaign, his poetry, didn’t hoot about racial issues, such as violence in bad neighborhoods, high percentage of minorities in prison, not even how more insensible our economy must appear to minorities compared to us; but I hoped against hope this was to avoid being villified via the pressures of the campaign, and he would respond towards the reason I voted for him, in style.
Then, just recently, I learned he spent ages 6-10 in Indonesia, so, not only did he not get the experience of a darker mama, but the elementary school system in These United States, is practically the capstone to understanding racial harmony in America. With bussing back in the seventies, ordered by the courts, to provide racial harmony, elementary school was bound to be where many a white kid experienced the whole gang and gaggle of blacks, for the first time, on a consistent, daily basis.
I to this day I have the fondest wishes for Byrum, and remember how Jerome always insisted on be called Maurice, which always made me think why; and Veronica Michtell, one of the smartest black girls who I believe is a lawyer now. To think Barrack missed out on this critical component of integration, going to school together, ….I mean, elementary school in America, just may be an elemental, natural, and moral criteria to being our president. It’s a little like the way I find myself objecting to governors who are not from the state they govern; gives em that carpet-bagger feel.
And then I learned, not only did he live in Indonesia, while I had to take a bus to elementary school everyday, but he wrote a book about it; and then here I am, cleaning out where I live, and I find this very book. And then this black kid Isreal is over and starts to read it, and when he leaves, I start to read it, and when I read a book I write about it in this blog.
Now first, let me get this out of the way, I’m jealous, someone with a white trash mother, who lived in Indonesia, aged 6-10, became president; while I toil away with witty remarks on the subject, in obscurity. However, I have learned, to be suspicious of jealousy, and its incitement, because jealousy is not real; nothing is that good or great, earth slides to the dismal scale fairly easy and quick, and no one earnest and true doing good which would cause jealousy, these people are too true to be jealous of. So jealousy is just a mexed up feel generally, and I very rarely feel jealousy.
Then Obama learns of his father’s death, while describing his apartment on the east side of Manhattan at 94th st; and this is funny; because I can definitely see the East-Sider in Barrack; being a west-sider; but then some manhattan nuance springs up; he says most of the people in his Harlem were peurto rican; whereas I’m pretty sure in general they tend to be Dominican and gang based, rather than individual and peurto rican; and you would refer to this sort of Harlem as a Spanish Harlem, as he says his neighborhood was mainly peurto rican. Now I do not know for sure as I didn’t get out to 94th and first back then.
The short chapter 1 is 90% images from the border of East Harlem, then ends with receiving the news of his father’s death.
But I understand now, if he spent his elementary school years in Indonesia, with a muslim parent and alianated mother, he’s not the right candidate to rouse and lead minorities through their issues.
There are three tells in this first chapter; revealing some jagged angle; the first is the image of his roommate yelling down from the fire escape they took smoke breaks on, at the white women walking their dogs, to scoop their poop. That’s what rednecks call “cracker”, cracker-behavior; where normal politeness is lost via peculiar social pressure; for surely the first thing you learn in these neighborhoods is keep the voice deep and well moderated; so that’s a little weird vignette.
Then he trots out an old yarn about his father, dangling a younger african student, over a ledge, in hawaii, for dropping his pipe down the ledge. That’s a violent image showing the anger of his father. Is that camouflaged, or what is meant to be shown?
Then Barry says he prefered at that young age as a student of higher education, to be alone, than hang out with the stupid repetitve hanging out people. I can relate to that. I remember at 24 how much I liked and needed to comfort myself, with myself, applying the excericise of the mind, as the wisest activity; something I still hold true; yet especially young, there is a tendency to have been weilded through primary education so swiftly, the mind is not applied, exposing school as stultifying the classical behavior of enjoying your mind.
Likewise, in my mind, there is a positive promotion of himself, as measuring the news of his father’s death; which does seem authentic and thoughtful, rather than passioned and foolish, false and not real.
Then, the story about his father, by his grandfather, reminisced from Hawaii, drifts on into further scenes, images and vignettes about his father; and frankly we are exposed, to what seems unacceptable, the interplay between his white mother, never good at intercultural relations to begin with, and her dark black husband with a british accent, comfortable with a beer at a bar; because this issue must be very hard broach; particularily as you come across more and more circumstances where these relationships tended painfully. How really is the author going to address what is often the folly of relationships born of something other than relating.
His grandfather portrays his father in sem-flattering terms; and yet how often have we seen a niggardly sycophant attitude by whites towards blacks; where the issues aren’t dealt with, and the interaction not genuine? Is Obama going to deal with this? Is this real praise, or does the story of his father accepting a Phi Beta Kappa awared, which requires good grades, in jeans and T-shirt, unaware it was a tuxedo event? Is this the innocence of a near-genius? Someone very out of touch? Or a normal response at some level?
Barrack laments these anecdotes were trotted out rarely, as even a sugar-coated therapy for the abscence of Barrack Sr., and thus he really knew his father very little? Which brings up the point of hardship, can be the assumption, that there is something magical beyond the hardship; and yet the world is moderate or worse, beyond the hardship; there is a wonderful relief to any recovery; but there are finite chisels to everyone’s sculpture; and the search for son-father relation, symbolically spiritual, to explain where and how we are.
Obama’s father was born in Kenya, in tribal society, and if you even meet Africans, ask them about their tribes and how they live; for it is not nearly as bad as what we’ve read growing up. Barrack Sr. showed promise and was selected to study abroad, in Hawaii, where he graduated top of his class. Africans in America do have a specialized social side. I have lived and worked and helped train with Kenyan Marathoners on a farm, so I certainly have experienced their special social pride; but I have also experienced how white girls trip them up, and how foolish that infatuation for them, and cutting for the girl.
According to his mother’s story, Barrack Sr got a scholarship to a Harvard program, but it didn’t afford his family, and from Harvard, he went back to Africa for Kenya to return on its investment.
Up to the age of 5 or 6, this was the story he heard of his father; that his mother white, and father, black, made no impression on him. And there is a wry tone, that truth will be revealed, and what seems true, changes, and yet, there is truth, to everything.
He then starts to discuss interracial marriage; how its outrageous to make it illegal, how his mother’s parents were gracious regarding, how it is an issue; yet there is a tendency to be proud of it, and being proud of one’s identity is important; but I for one am tired of the dilution of blood as an outright positive; its a real issue, morally ambiguos, like many others, signaling a silence of society, rather than potent discourse, being all alone by design, regarding explanations.
Then there is this thread, of academic parents, whereby its inculcated, some are respectable, some are not. I’ve come across this also, and can only say, as someone who has experienced the lower class, this bifurcation ignores the fun and goodness and skills, some of the less respectable have, in that some of the less respectable, are more respectable than the respectible, and good society recognizes the less educated can be more enlightened, and the important thing is working, and there is something good about people working with their hands honestly, and the poor and the rich, or college-educated and drop-outs, are compelled to be polite and respectful to each other; and this what hospitable society constitutes; yet Hawaii seems a little far off this Mark; even though I am sure the natives understand this.
His mother’s parents, from Kansas, living in Hawaii, are very nice to Barrack, and Barrack obviously returns the favor speaking very warmly of them. He looks up to his grandfather, and sees his American Heritage refracting through him, his mother’s father, in that that is wonderful, as there is a tendency to forget, Barrack is half white; and for some reason we treat that as minority, rather than half-majority.
Barrack wonders whether his gramps kindness is from liberalism, and not therefore genuine; as he recognizes the significance of the interlude between his parents, before his mother’s parents. But 30 pages into the book it becomes starkly apparent; the lack of racial harmony and addressing minority issues of his campaign is no fluke. This book has the wrong racism. If you believe these vignettes of his grandparents consitute contemporary, relevant racial issues that have even existed in my lifetime, you really missed forced bussing and integrated elementary schools.
Let me repeat; he writes these images of the forties and fifties, where you can’t call blacks Mr., and if you have a black friend you are taunted by your peers en masse, and the blacks are not allowed in the store. This entirely was not of my mid-forties life time. If anything Whites are not sympathetic to the alianation Blacks may feel, from and too, the insensible economy, the insensible promotion in commercial sports, the admixture of race, the violence, the prisons, the alianation from being far from their traditional power in Africa; these are the issues of racial harmony.
I have never seen Whites mean to Blacks. I have though, been robbed by blacks, and never by blacks, I have walked through a black neighborhood and had bottles thrown at me for being white, and yelled at for being white, and seen dead dogs around, the way I never see in white neighborhoods; these are the serious issues of alianation, that are relevant, and have been experienced, anger towards our own and others. But I have never seen whites persecute blacks, in my lifetime; really. I even remember in the late sixties, a handyman came by a few times a summer, Mr. Vance, who I remember, even under the age of five, was to call him Mr. Vance. And as for segregation; if you make the issue out of the timeless seperation of neighborhood by color, you miss the true issue, which is one standard or tier of living for one color, and a usually inferior one for another; that latter is the definition of a racist society. So we do have a racist society; that runs away from the issues; that up to page 30, seems led by Obama, out of touch enough to not relate to the real issues of anger etc, apparently from living in Hawaii and indonesia. But surely there is a coming of age, no matter how late, that comes, undocumented by media, when one realizes there are problems, unique problems within the black community that must needs be addressed, where harmony is created by awareness, and discomfort, by ignorance.
Let me give you an example of ignorance: A racist society is defined by segregation, not different standards of living for different races.
Often the anger towards minorities regards the ocassion of violence towards women; something the media will not admit, as it would lead to a reconsideration of the metaphysic here. Same way, I can not be helped, through where power is placed, because the metaphysic of local elect, or me influencing society by becoming famouse, is offensive to no person, but to a metaphysic saddling society so; a society whose primary is deception, a lying about earth, by western civilization, by societies previous; for within lies, enabled the creation of the kingdom of god; done for a reason.
Again, I have had memorable experiences, with minorities; from jamaican weed dealers at Washington Square Park in Manhattan; I’d carry s sign indicating the abscence of the world, and they would tease me by thinking I was a cop. All right, anyway.
Hawaii does have a different rythm of harmony by virtue of the powers the natives yield and weilding power often better towards racial harmony by the minorities in a local majority; as Hannibal united a more diverse group against The Roman Republic, than the Romans to defend themselves against The North African warrior.
Yet he speaks of the United States oppression of Hawaii, and certainly, we should set Hawaii free; but he speaks of Hawaii as if Japan never owned it. We took it from Japan. If we set it free, Japan would probably rule it again, and still does have a sphere of influence there. His demonization here, and his earlier phrase, “sword that tasted wars first cut of blood or something”, is frankly a liberal tendency, that mispeaks to the international community, that seems to compell the liberal subject from himself, his experiences, to some written world, not directly relevant, of segregated imagery villified, and minority friends not allowed; when our age today has an amazingly high degree of peaceful racial interaction; where if anything whites lack sympathy to blacks, while blacks may live in dangerous neighborhoods, like Brooklyn.
He rhapsodizes liberally how self-segregation leads to whites receiving racism, in Hawaii; but then ends the chapter, before going to indonesia, with the start of the wry even measured commentary, one hopes for in a leader, that casts reflection upon the first chapter as homilies the media wants to hear, and not actual. “I was too young to realize I was supposed to have a live-in father, just as I was too young to know that I needed a race.” He ackowledges he was caught in a dreamworld, whose waking world reclaimed his parents, and left him there. So we approach Chapter 2 and Indonesia.
There were in indonesia because his mother fell in love with one, which had to be a terrible embarrassment, because children know the truth. I’ve seen mothers like this; I’ve tended their children. I relate to them, insofar I didn’t cause it; a hard thing for society to own up to together, as deserved, of tribal times; but something their mothers may lack without an aware grace. So right away, I feel tremendous sympathy for Barack, because I know these kids; makes me wonder how he became president. The images with his mother are painful. Will he deal with the tragedy of his mother? Honest imagery and a wry tone are not enough.
The irony of moving to Indonesia–for of late I’ve found irony marks or mocks our society more than any quality, is that it was genuinely, probably a good and worthwhile move for him. If I was him, I could see how Indonesia was more comfortable than the situation in Hawaii, insofar that are more minorities, or racially mixed people, or darker skinned, in Indonesia, so Barrack gets along with neighborhood kids, and I imagine is more comfortable; Indonesia sounds wonderful compared to the western limitations upon animals; The new husband to his mother, actually seems the genuine type that cares more about the kid, than the single mother. Indonesia, for all the hardship, is unpretentitious, warm and comfortable.
He ran with the neighborhood kids, which, you may know, include bullies, who throw rocks, that land on the head, if pursued for taking a soccer ball from a game.
When I was six, I met the neighborhood kids, having a rock fight, amid the hills of slate and shale bulldozed into hills often taller than a six year old. Now, that would be totally unacceptable to me; I would stop unsupervised children playing like that. And to be sure, the rock fights died out in a year or two, and at some point, there was enough head injury and pain, no one threw rocks; throw crab apple fights, with the big crab apples especially, were painful and lingered. It was like peanuts and Charlie Brown, there were no grown-ups, no adults keeping an eye on the kids, which seems so normal now.
Likewise many people do not seem to have an age of 6-10, so deceptive and true, this world around me; the notion people have experience, when experience leads to reason, and reason away from the oppression of school, into the wisdom of community and thinking together—so with a grain of salt to many experiences.