I've been a fan of Sen. Barack Obama since the the Democratic National Convention in 2004. At the time, Obama was not a national name. He was described in a later news story as a senator whose grandfather had been a goat herder in Kenya. To me, that epitomized the American promise. Despite being rebellious and anti-authoritarian when authority is assumed, not earned, I am a patriot in the most idealistic sense, in the same manner as the Founding Fathers, Thomas Paine and Henry David Thoreau. We must always questions our leaders, distrust our government, and fight whatever powers - wealth, prestige, spin, sound bytes, Department of Homeland Security Threat Warnings - threaten our democracy from being anything but equal people in continuous debate.
When I was younger and cemented my political beliefs to the left, I always wondered if I would vote for a black man who was a serious contender for the presidency. Instead of an intellectual with a wealthy family like Vice President Al Gore, or a mediocre "this-is-the-best-we-could-come-up-with-on-short-notice" contender like John Kerry, we were rewarded with Barack Obama, an orator and poet who has managed to repair the chaos of the 2000 and 2004 Democratic Party fiascos and run a brilliant campaign.
Now he's so far ahead in the polls that his victory seems unlikely to falter in the next few days.
Think of it: he's black, he writes moving, poetic speeches, he's young like Kennedy, he's galvanized young voters, he grew up so poor he was on food stamps yet became a senator, he has an economic plan as we face the Second Great Depression, he beat a Clinton, then gained their support, he's a child of a foreign citizen, and from a mixed-race family that includes Kenyans, whites, and Indonesians. My vote for Barack Obama is as much for the man and his policies as it is for the honor of telling my children that I voted for him.
But what makes it more relevant is how little race has actually played in the campaign. Obama's race is noteworthy, but to paraphrase Dr. Martin Luther King, he's being judged not by the color of skin, but in indifference to it, and rather to the content of his character.
To top it off, this afternoon on NPR, I heard this story of first-time black voters in St. Louis who are voting for similar pride. At the end of the story, one of the interviewees, Ed Welch, relayed this, which he got as a text message, and I think it both encapsulates the fruition of the Civil Rights Movement and the progress of America as a whole through the African-American experience:
"Rosa sat so Martin could walk.
Martin walked so Obama could run.
Obama is running so our children can fly."
This is the official blog of Northern Arizona slam poet Christopher Fox Graham. Begun in 2002, and transferred to blogspot in 2006, FoxTheBlog has recorded more than 670,000 hits since 2009. This blog cover's Graham's poetry, the Arizona poetry slam community and offers tips for slam poets from sources around the Internet. Read CFG's full biography here. Looking for just that one poem? You know the one ... click here to find it.