On Wednesday night’s edition of Let’s talk About It! We reflected on the era of Hope and Change and if it’s just been more of the same. Our guests included: Aidil Oscariz (Worked on Obama’s campaign in Miami), Niaz Kazravi (NAACP), Daniella Levine (Catalyst Miami), Joseph Phelan (Florida New Majority), Carlos Roa (Trail of DREAMs), Michelle Fowler (Health Care Worker U-M), and Desmond Meade (Florida Rights Restoration Coalition). You can download it here or just press play below
“A New America Is Ours To Envision, Build, and Defend!”
For those that don’t know, January 20, 2011 marked the 2-year anniversary of Barack Obama becoming this nation’s President. Regardless of how you feel about Obama, it is important to reflect on what the election meant then and what it means now.
Whether you think Obama is a fire-breathing socialist, a pawn of US imperialism, or the second coming of — (insert Christ, Elijah, Moses, the Mahdi, whoever), you belong in a cold dark cave if you don’t acknowledge that the 2008 election and the 2009 inauguration were transformational moments for millions of people. I have probably mentioned it before, but both days were among the most memorable in my life.
I know that there are plenty of people that weren’t happy on January, 20, 2009. But for those that were, there was this incredible elation, and this real feeling of hope and real understanding that change was possible.
Michelle Obama caught a lot of heat when she said “For the first time in my life, I am proud of this country.” While a lot of people weren’t really feeling that statement…what did ring true about the ’08 election and the inauguration is that you got a real sense that for the first time in a lot of peoples lives, they finally felt like a full part of this country.
I was born in this country, in Cleveland, Ohio. I was raised in this country, in Saginaw, Michigan. I have lived all my life in this country, in Brooklyn, NY and now Miami. But growing up, it was really hard to fully feel American. I am saying this as a person that loved each and every community I lived in and the people there. But for some reason, the idea that many people put out about who was American didn’t always include folks that looked like me, had my beliefs, or even had my name.
Even as I got older and wiser, I knew that I loved the communities I lived in and the people in them. But the “mainstream” discourse would often make it seem like to be American you had to love NASCAR, look at people like President Andrew Jackson and Christopher Columbus as heroes, and you had to fully support every stupid war that put the lives of people I knew at risk. And you had to do that all by wrapping yourself around an American flag.
Well let’s just say, that wasn’t me growing up. That wasn’t a lot of my friends or family. And as I got older, some of those same people that wrapped themselves around the American flag didn’t love this country enough to stop our cities in Michigan from being gutted economically, stop people from being kicked out of their homes in Miami, stop Brooklyn families from losing their loved ones in Iraq, or prevent immigrants that called Orlando their lifelong home from being sent back to a country they didn’t know. But yet it was me that felt I wasn’t American enough.
Stepping onto the Mall on inauguration day, I felt the vibe, and I swear I am not making this up. It felt like millions of people finally felt like they were owning the term American.
There are a lot of ways to understand the disappointment those millions have had with Obama in the past two years. The most obvious is that Obama was not meant to be the second coming of Christ (maybe the second coming of Kennedy). On the other hand, if people wanted the second coming of Clinton, they would have just voted for the second (and smarter) Clinton. A lot of people didn’t just vote for Obama to get bills passed. They voted for him because they fundamentally thought that that he would change the way the political process related to regular people. And much of that didn’t happen.
But as I said on the show, there is a huge piece missing to this whole puzzle of Hope and Change. Obama was a symptom and not a cure. Obama is a symptom of a New America and a New American coming into its own. His election was a symptom that whole groups of people that have traditionally been left out of the mainstream notion of American, now had a chance to redefine it. That New America is our Hope and Change.
But that New American is ours to envision, build, and defend. Obama is too surrounded by the Old America (Congress, his cabinet, etc.) to be the primary builder of a New America. And believe me that Old America is willing to fight tooth and nail to keep things the way they are (and I am NOT just talking Tea Party).
In a democracy, we should never entrust just one person to be that Hope and Change in building a New America. But also in becoming a New America, we have to understand what it means to become New Americans. In the coming year, Let’s Talk About It! Radio hopes to really explore what building a New America and a New American looks like and we hope you can join us in that process.
I am going to leave you with two songs that helped guide the thought process of the show. Enjoy “Wake up” by the Roots, John Legend, and Melanie Fiona. The original song is by Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes. The second is “Change” by Joy Denalane and Lupe Fiasco. See y’all next week and Let’s Talk About It!
Let’s Talk About It!!!
Wed. Jan. 19 at 7pm on 880thebiz.com or 880 am (S. Florida) or just click here
This week marks 2 years since Barack Obama became president. For many people, January 20, 2009 was a transformational moment that was supposed to bring in a new era of hope and change. But have we seen real Hope and Change in the past two years? If not, what happened? What can we do to bring real Hope and Change?
Join us as we talk to folks that bring Hope and fight for Change every day as they reflect on the last two years and where we go from here.
If there is any show that we want you, our listeners to call into, this is it! Don’t miss it!
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