Poetry and politics

I don’t remember the exact words from Julia Alvarez’s In the Name of Salomé, but I do remember the sentiment:

A poet puts into words what can’t be put into words.

Kris articulated exactly how I felt today, how I felt in 2000 (even voting Green!) and 2004. He’s a poet.

America felt especially beautiful this morning.
New York City feels especially beautiful today.
I can’t quite wrap my head around how beautiful the whole world might look tomorrow morning.

I voted today. I’ve never voted in a primary before. I’ve been registered as Independent since Nader–and no, I didn’t cost Gore the presidency, Mom. When I moved back to New York, I re-joined the Democratic party. I did it so I could vote for Obama.

So okay, it’s not a shock that I’d be voting for this guy. I’m a member of the hip-hop generation. There’s a cool ass Black dude–a Progressive cool ass Black dude–running for President? Of course he gets my vote. He’s from Chicago, he plays basketball, he owns up to his youthful indiscretions? Sign me up. And he can speak? He can speak with rhythm, with flavorful cadences, with enthusiasm and passion and accessibility? He can speak to me, directly to me, the way so many hip-hop artists and theater artists and neighborhood geniuses have spoken to me, full of confidence without bluster, swagger with compassion, spirit and spirituality and yeah, I say this without irony, love in his voice and his heart? And he’s young, he’s handsome, he’s–I can’t believe I’m saying this–electable? I’m voting. I voted. I ride for Barack.

AND he sounds like The Rock? Sheeeeeeeeeeeeeit (c) Clay Davis.

My vote isn’t surprising.

But my dad reminded me to vote today. He voted early. I think he voted for Barack. But even that’s not surprising, really–my dad likes cool ass Black dudes as much as I do. He has a bust of Marx on his bookshelves. He’s also a real estate agent now (hmm–think about that one). He’s a Democrat, pretty through and through. And he digs Obama. Not a shock.

My mom–look, my mom is a woman. My mom is a Baby Boomer woman who rode for The Clintons like I ride for Barack. My mom has been ready to vote for Hillary since that first post-Lewinski press conference, I bit. She’s the kind of relatively conservative Democrat that the Clintons want to have dinner with up in Chappaqua. She’s the kind of voter that Hillary’s folks are counting as givens. And yeah, she’ll probably vote for Hillary. But as I write this, she’s undecided. She’s that taken in by this guy.

It’s beautiful.

I’ve voted in two other presidential elections in my lifetime. Nader had me (and many of my peers) fired up because he represented something different. He was a voice for the issues we felt were important. We knew he wouldn’t win. We didn’t care about him winning. We went Green and independent because we were independent, because we needed to be heard somehow, and he was the way to get heard. And we lost, and our second choice lost, and it was disheartening, yes, but it felt like we were speaking loud and clear, and lo and behold–our second choice is now the greenest motherfucker in politics. And film, for that matter. As Fergie and Daddy Yankee would say: “Impacto.”

In 2004, we mobilized and we mobilized strong. We rode hard for Kerry, not because any of us really dug Kerry, but because–well, you know. And we lost. I remember being at Southpaw on election night, watching Baba Israel and J-Love and company bring hip-hop and funk and US to the presidential election. We went to bed that night thinking we had changed the way things were done. We woke up to find out the efforts had fallen short. The students I had been working with on the campaign said things like: “Why should I even register when I turn eighteen? We did all this work, and it didn’t make a difference.” I knew where they were coming from. I couldn’t teach that day. I cried tears of frustration in the office when no one was looking. The tears were about losing so much as anger at the process–we poured this much work into getting behind a guy that NO ONE really wanted to see as President. And we still almost made it happen. Imagine if it was Edwards. Imagine if it was a cool ass smart ass Black dude. Things would have changed.

But of course, things do change, and impacts are made, and now, today, it’s soggy and nasty in New York, but The Giants are parading in the Canyon of Heroes, and there’s an energy here, yo.

Brooklyn College (the most ethnically diverse institution I know of in NYC) is buzzing. For a primary.
Emerson Middle School, where I voted, was buzzing. For a primary.

There’s a guy we care about, and he’s running against a woman who, all things being equal, would be a President I could stand behind. Hell, there’s a crazy old Republican with a crazy way old mother who I could stand behind (The old guy, not the mom. No wait–the mom too). There’s an internet rock star independent thinker sticking around, stirring things up. And yeah, there’s a business as usual Mormon robo-politican around, and a religious conservative dude–but hey, no Rudy.

And there’s Barack Hussein Effing Obama, who has put tears in the back of my eyes, who has me believing in Bob The Builder slogans (Yes We Can!) as a sign of potential social change.

I’m not convinced he’s going to win.
Hell, I’m not convinced he’ll get nominated.
And I’m sure that if he does win, he’ll never–NEVER–live up to everything that my generation is expecting of him.
He might not be the best President ever.

And you know what? It wouldn’t matter.

Because right now, a whole lot of people fucking care for once.
And we care because this dude is here.

Neither my state nor Kris’ state has gone for Obama, but there’s still hope.


7 thoughts on “Poetry and politics

  1. Hector says:

    I’m proud that we in Illinois, and especially in Chicago stood tall with Obama. As a Latino I reject the idea that we won’t vote for an African American – man of us did, and will vote for him again in November.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s