On Women for Obama

I was excited when I go the invitation for two reasons. I
hadn't been to a luncheon in an entire year, since moving to San
Antonio, and two, it seemed like a chance to get involved. Last time
I felt emotionally attached to a political election was twenty years
ago (I was only five), when I volunteered to work on the initial
campaign of the late Ann Richards. I was glad I did that, Governor
Richards ended up being dear to me until she died just recently. She
remembered me by name the few times we saw each other while traveling
on Southwest airlines and several times over the years she asked me
to speak to her students and I gladly did so. It was time to get
involved again, this time, Women for Obama was kicking off their
efforts in Texas and Michelle Obama would be the guest speaker at a
luncheon in a private home of a friend of a good friend.
I'm glad I went.
Of course, it was a pleasure to see my old neighbors and buddies. I
missed them. But I was in for even more of a treat than the
scrumptious lunch catered by one of my favorite Austin restaurants,
Michelle Obama was gracious and polite while we milled around, taking
the time to greet everyone personally. Here was a woman with presence
who not only had things to say, but had things to say that I wanted
to hear.
Let's get one thing straight. I don't really claim to be republican
or democrat. I have been accused of being a republican in the vein
of it being an insult, mainly because I believe that my vote is my
own and I do not claim to vote for the masses. I vote for me, as I
hope everyone does. I have just as hard a time supporting a party
that professes to know what is right for the inner cities but whose
leaders have never been there save on a campaign bus, as I do
supporting a party that is so bleeding heart about social ills that
it enables those at the lower end of the socioeconomic rungs,
encouraging them to stick their hand out rather than equipping them
with the tools needed to stand on their own two feet and do for
themselves. I will write a check, but I will also (and have also)
worked in the teen centers, at risk schools, soup kitchens and food
bank drives.
By the same token, I must admit, when Barack Obama first hit my
radar, I was reluctant to support him. I didn't want to jump on the
bandwagon and support a candidate just because he was black. I had
to wait and see what he was about.
When Michelle Obama began to speak about supporting and believing in
her husband and what he stood for, I got her.
Several things stood out in my mind when she was done and it was
clear to me that she would be a first lady with much more to her
credit that the suit she would wear and how she would be coiffed.
These weren't people who came from a cushy, well-to-do, rancher or
oil family backgrounds (although there ain't nothing wrong with it if
you got it), Michelle and Barack hail from working class families
where their parents worked hard to attain the best for their kids,
just like mine. They believe in their own families and want their
families and children to come first. Why is this important? As
Michelle put it, if you can't run your own family, how can you be
trusted to run the rest of the world? Makes a helluva lot of sense
to me.
I almost laughed out loud when Michelle said basically what I have
said in one of the talks I give. The feminists sold us a bag of
goods. As women, we were taught that we can have everything. Well,
the fact is, you can't. It is a true superwoman who can have a high
powered career, well adjusted children, a husband who totally gets
you, have a home cooked gourmet meal on the table every night, and be
a perfectly fit size six and still be sane or at the very least, not
be stressed. I don't know how many of my friends are always ripping
and running and barely have time to sit down. Family values are at
the core of the Obama campaign, and according to Michelle, Barack
gets it and her. Not only does he get it, but he really wants to do
something about it. He doesn't want to send someone else to do the
work. He hasn't toured the east side of Chicago where he is from, he
has rolled up his sleeves and worked there, hands-on, for years. His
experience as an activist could have been any of us working in our
own churches on the south side of Chicago, the east side of Austin,
New York's Harlem or any other city's ghetto, barrio, ward or
bottom. The hood isn't just someplace he's visited. Like many of
us, he's from there, but more than that, he goes back there and
really believes what many of us are told time and time again as we
work in the various organizations that we belong to. "To whom much is
given, much is expected."
Now, that is not about a political party. That is what is just plain
While Michelle spoke, the mood in the room was one of hope. Not one
of us there, no matter what party we said we belonged to, was
enamored of the War. I looked around at the other faces in the room
while she was speaking of the Iraq war to try and gauge the reactions
of others, to see if people were feeling as I was. I was immediately
struck not by their reactions, but by the lack of faces of color in
the room.
I realize that such luncheons are expensive and not everyone can
afford to attend such things. Their purpose is, after all, to raise
funds. But I do know that in Austin there are others like me. Austin
is by no means a very large metro area like New York or Chicago
where events like this luncheon happen quite often. This luncheon
was in itself, an event. I know that I am the shoe queen, but why Is
it, I wondered, that we will so often choose to spend out money on
our St. John suits, thousand dollar handbags, expensive vacations or
fancy rims for our cars but we are not willing to donate our time and
money to something that seems so worthwhile? What could be more worth
it than a political race that will certainly impact our families and
our own children directly over the next few years? I realize I made
a personal choice to forgo the next pair of shoes and to skip the
next sale or two in order to attend that luncheon, and it is a
person's right to make such a choice. Not everyone even has the
luxury of doing that, I admit, but I hope that we realize that twenty
dollars is just as important as a thousand in the race ahead, and
certainly time is the most valuable resource each of us has to give.
Whether we give that time by volunteering directly in the campaign of
our choice or by making phone calls or visits to encourage others not
normally interested in politics to just get out and register to vote,
that is up to the individual. The alternative is unthinkable, that
being, if we don't, we may be doomed to another four years of
lamenting the things that our president does wrong, rather than
lauding the things that a new president such as Barack Obama, would
do right.


Anonymous said…
Agree so much with your Obama piece. I'm in love with Obama (I just love that video). Actually, I really do dig Mrs. Obama -- she seems like she has her act together and a brother that has a woman like that on his side, is destined for greatness.

And you are right -- so many will spend on rims/clothes/vacations rather than on thier convictions...we need to fully realize that our freedoms are not free.

One thing that I totally dig about Mr. obama is his grassroots online giving efforts. I've contributed that way b/c it makes me feel like I'm part of the mass that matters. I will likely fork over the 2K maximum if he progresses in the primaries, but I am besotted with the idea of a democratically elected leader being funded substantially by a democratic oriented system of smaller giving. If he wins, it will truly be much more populist in nature -- the people gave, the people voted, the people elected.

HOWEVER, I am a political realist too. Our election process is a zero-sum game that is not exactly built on what the populace wants, but is built on a campaign's ability to marshall the right resources to win just the right number of votes in the right states such that the best managed section of the plurality is assembled in aggregate to achieve specific goals in a political ground war that is won district by district; state by state.

I'm in the aire between obama and mrs. clinton (and I do hate that so many pundits and media folks call Mr. Obama "Mr. Obama"; Mr. Edwards "Mrs Edwards", and they call "Mrs. Clinton" 'Hilary'....but that is another conversation.) I think she is best poised to win the political chess match and that is an effective skill for a political leader. mr. obama has a vision and a style and direction i like....but does he have the strength to make the tough calls when needed? I don't know. I hope he does. I can easily see him summarily ordering up $XX.Y billion dollars for America's war on poverty (and I hope he does it). But can he also issue an order to invade Darfur? Place santions on Russia? Increase trade in our hemisphere? I dunno, but I'd like to give him a chance to try. I think Mrs. Clinton can do those things, but I have doubts on her ability to create, sustain and push her vision.

Well, I suppose I have to keep reading the papers and listening to debates and keep giving equally to both until someone shows me the direction I need to go.


Right now, both work for me. But I also like the idea of Edwards/Obama '08 (it just rolls off the tongue nicely).
Pam said…
Woo-wee, this is a hot topic! Well, I am a card-carrying democrat, but that is my choice and everyone should have his or hers. (But, if I ever call someone out as a republican, they can consider it an insult.)

How lovely that you were able to attend the luncheon. I have admired Mrs. Obama, as she strikes me as a woman with intelligence and poise. She speaks so eloquently and passionately about her husband and his campaign.

Would I vote for someone just because they are black? Of course not, if ever there is a qualified, intelligent and positive black person who needs my support, I am going to be there to support them. As long as Mr. Obama is in the race, he will have my support. (Hillary is my girl and all, but she in my number 2 spot, so she better get with the program.)

I come from a place and time, where black people stood together and supported each other to see things get done. It is sad for me to see that this is no longer the case. I don’t know if I will live long enough to see a black man or a woman in the Whitehouse, but I hope I will. There is one thing that I know for sure, and that is that anybody will be better than those bozos that are in there right now.

My Two Cents
Mega Rich said…
There are a few layers to this post and I will do my best to cover them effectively.

Democrat/Republican -- I consider myself neither, although I ultimately have to choose for one. Often times what I have found is that I'm usually more open to Republican candidates on a local and state level than I am on the federal level. I have without fail voted for a Democrat in the Presidential elections.

As far as the races closer to home. I tend to look for the candidate who makes things better for the community as a whole. I tend to agree that there is way too much enabling of poor mentalities going on.

Obama/Clinton -- I have always been in favor of Obama for President. I think that in all the candidates who have emerged from our community over the last two decades, he has a better chance of going further in the race than any of them. I think ultimately he and Hilary may have to saddle up and ride the ticket together. Whoever wins the primary carries the ticket, but we'll see how that goes down.

Candidate support -- To put it bluntly, there is a disconnect in the black community when it comes to supporting the political process economically. In many ways we are still waiting for a reparations check so we see no need to give back into the system - we are too busy trying to get our share out. Of course, my comment is a gross generalization, but it is true on some level. There is a remnant of people that will support via grass roots efforts, but when it comes to the money, we act as if we are all tapped out. Candidates would be better served to seek a donation through some of these mega churches, but it's likely that they won't get help there either. Many of these churches only believe in giving when they are on the receiving end.

Nevertheless, if Obama wins the primary, black folks will give in droves. You know we tend to like paying at the door once we know its going to be a show.
CapCity said…
First, Sistah Nina, I am SOOOO "jealous" - I pray that one day I am blessed to be in the company of such profound PRESENCE (& comfortable being there). I think part of my fascination with Barack - besides the fact that I think he's FOINE & I love men with dark lips:-) - I love that he has a brilliant WIFE! That says much about his choices.

Anon - this is just MY opinion, but I think sometimes the media is attempting to separate Hilary from her husband, so we'll look at her for her own merits - despite her using her "trump" card on tours:-). Also, the use of "Hilary" makes the public think she's just like a neighbor or someone else u'd call by first name. again, my humble opinion.

I agree for the most part with Brother Rich regarding the candidate $upport. In addition, I think most (especially People of Color) spend their money on tangibles. When you have been primarily raised "without" so many things - there's a necessary comfort in getting something specific back when you shell out your money. Giving money to a nebulous political machine in hopes of "making a difference" is an abstract concept. Maybe this doesn't apply to wealthy Blacks, but I still think many of us suffer from the short-sighted mentality. It takes time to grow from that point.

Great intro. to your corner of the Blog-o-sphere, Nina!

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