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Wiley Wandering

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October 31, 2008

What is Your Perspective on "The McCain Campaign" or "Obama Drama?"

Like most people that I know I am also fascinated by the presidential campaign that is currently underway. Obama and McCain, Palin and Biden, Democrats and Republicans (where are the other political parties?), debates and polls, MSNBC and Fox News, do we receive any of them without a spin?

While some of the above I can’t begin to engage or unpack, I may have insight into some aspects of Barack Obama’s reality at a level that most of my local readership may not have even considered. For example, people want to paint him with a broad brush stroke because of some of his prior affiliations, more specifically, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright. I find this quite intriguing and relate it to some aspects of my life and my thirst for knowledge of self. As an African American who struggled with finding images of myself in the media and accurate depictions of my history within U.S. history, I was deeply angered when I discovered a history of Jim Crow, Negro Peonage, the Convict Lease System, the failing of the Freedman’s Bureau, the nadir of race relations, and an unbridled legacy of lynching that further added to an understanding of an unjust justice system. Obama, as a bi-racial person, very well may have been introduced to many of these details through the educational system instead of through any type of oral history as he was evolving, especially since his father was African and probably didn’t have much experience with American racism. Like many bi-racial people, Obama may have gone after an understanding of, or context for his blackness within the context of American society with a fervor, somewhat overcompensating for a lack of acceptance by many black folk because he simply wasn’t black enough for them. Oddly enough though, as we are still finding today, he is too dark for many non-blacks.

Many people are taken aback by Obama’s affiliation with his infamous pastor. However, like Malcolm X’s thoughts on Black Intelligence (concisely articulated in the Spike Lee film) that challenged a hegemonic perspective on Black folk defending themselves from American hypocrisy cloaked as American democracy, it very well could be the case that Obama had a young inquiring mind that was attempting to understand a culture he just didn’t know. However, in American society if you are a member of the underclass you must accept the ongoing legacy of American hypocrisy quietly or you are adamantly painted as a radical. What a joke. How is it that various White Americans could be voted into governorships and senate seats over and over again, but socially conscious Black Americans must whisper their observations about America as a flawed country or they are painted as unpatriotic? Sadly, because I am writing this in an attempt to challenge thought, I now flirt with the reality of being painted with similar broad strokes. Understanding that many people can’t de-center themselves long enough to process this dimension of the American reality, perhaps I should stop. I don’t think so! Instead, let me end with a couple of other things for you to consider.
I am very much a fan of Hillary Clinton and am one of those that would have enjoyed seeing her on the ticket with Obama. I am disappointed that Sarah Palin didn’t recognize what her continued veiled suggestion that certain types of Americans are more American than others actually said about her. I am thoroughly intrigued by the possibility that McCain “may have” committed the most sexist of acts by choosing a running mate primarily for her gender only. And yes, I am concerned that Obama is so overtly fixated about not playing the race card that he has chosen, albeit strategically, to avoid some opportunities to challenge his opponent in ways that are very real.

While there is something intriguing, perhaps even troubling about the fact that Obama’s campaign finances have enabled him to put a down payment on the presidency, it is none the less also a statement about how invested American citizens actually are in his endeavor to change our country. Just as intriguing though is the fact that while McCain wants to take Obama to task for taking advantage of the campaign financing, I hope McCain recognizes the unearned advantages that he has simply by being born White. Yes, Obama has probably lost as many votes simply because of his being born biracial (but looking Black) as McCain may have lost due to Obama’s campaign financing far exceeding McCain’s.

What are your thoughts on the McCain campaign or Obama drama?

October 16, 2008

In the Poker Game That Is Politics, No Card Goes Unplayed!!! Democrats, Republicans, & BiPartisanship, Oh My...

As a diversity director/consultant you could say it is my job to pay attention to how we engage people's differences. Is there any more pertinent difference to consider than the political chasm that separates our two major political parties? Could politics be any more polarizing than the seeming inability of either party to actually own the fact that representatives of each party actually misstep/misspeak from time to time! All you have to do is know that the take on Palin/Obama you are about to hear is from a Democrat/Republican) and you can essentially anticipate what you will hear! It is a rare occasion that we hear anyone considered a staunch Democrat acknowledging the merits of a Republican or vice-versa! What is that about? Is that the American Way? If it is, is America flawed in some ways that make it philosophically dysfunctional?

In the WBA, NBA, NFL, MLB, NHL, ATP, WTA, MLS, WBA--and any other sport you want to consider--it has become common practice to respectfully acknowledge the merits of your opponents. If in American politics the major leagues is the presidential election, why have the rules of engagement been so dramatically different? There doesn't appear to be any genuine bipartisan respect acknowledged beyond compliments laced with political posturing. Is this a result of the passion of two very different candidates, or the passion of two very different agendas, or perhaps both?

With a disastrous economy hanging in the balance, this election has socio-economic implications like no other, and it is the only so-called card that both parties will play, but they play it cautiously and with their cards close to their vest. That aside, how do you see the ageism card being played? How do you see the race card being played? How about the gender card, did it hit the table beyond the appointment of Palin or response to that appointment? Has the ableism card been played by anointing Palin's support of Down Syndrome, or played in a very different way by any conversation about McCain's ex-wife Carol being situated on the margins of public discourse, especially when the topic of character of the candidates arises.

Is the religion card absent from this game of political poker, or is it some what tucked away in the aftermath of its heightened visibility over the last eight years, perhaps a side effect of a failed or as some might be apt to say, bushwacked economy. I think the card that was least played was the sexual orientation card. Why would that be?

Could it be that the American political system is in need of dire repair? Is it possible that this election will set the table for similar campaigning during future elections, by either upping the ante so that negative politics becomes as antiquated as the Model-T. Or will tomorrow's political competitors have to demonstrate a few additional layers of skin before they can even be considered as candidates?

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October 6, 2008

The Urgency that Accompanies Aging!

I was having a conversation with one of Plattsburgh's most engaging couples recently and we got on the topic of age. This was on the heels of a conversation I had recently had with a local politician about age as well. Both of these chats brought me to thinking, is there an urgency that accompanies aging? Do we panic as certain birth dates approach? While we celebrate 13 (finally a teenager), 16 (in some states the legal driving age), 18 (the right to vote-die for country), 20 (no longer a teenager), 21 (certified adulthood status-liquor purchasing), and 25 (the age some L.A. nightclubs insist is viable for male admittance), what are the ages that find us looking the other way?

Does American society endorse urgency with aging? I have identified some of the aging milestones that we celebrate in American society. What are the aging milestones that Americans find problematic? Are there certain fears that arise as we approach certain ages?

I remember when I was entering my early twenties and was thinking I should have been already out of my mother’s house (I actually had moved out once, but then moved back). I was feeling like a loser because I was still living at home, “with my mother.” How uncool was that? I was thinking it would be such a turn off to the women I would meet, even though I was doing the college thing, and was creative enough to make sure I could always have “private time” from time to time.

I remember when I was approaching my late twenties and became preoccupied with whether or not I should be in love and/or married. What a trip! I understood the reality of women and birthing children as a motivating factor for those who desired children to want to make it happen sooner than later. But for me, exiting my twenties shouldn’t have come with a sense of urgency to love and/or marry, should it?

I remember as I was entering my mid thirties being preoccupied with the old adage that you should make at least your age equivalent in your annual salary (if you are 35 years young, then you should be making $35,000), or was it making twice your age (if you are 35 years old/young you should be making $70,000). Of course since they were both cautionary tales I had heard often, the “twice your age” tale was extremely daunting and had me wondering when I would pull that off, if ever.

What do you remember about your urgency to age, or the consequences you were apprehensive about relative to aging?