When I was younger, I was told that a sign of diplomacy and intelligence was the ability to act rationally and to control your emotions — especially in a debate. So, I practiced this and when I grew up and had just about enough, I decided that instead, I would become an artist. Then I would be allowed to act out, act up and speak out with passion using the unabridged version of my speech. As an educator and an artist, I ask: Why can’t I speak of both social justice and democracy? Why can’t I speak of the human condition and speak of politics? In Van Jones’ article in this week’s The Nation, he advocates for both approaches. So, on that note, I offer you:
Reflections on Election Day
I saw him accept his honor. It was a speech — the Inaugural Address? Or was that me that joined the masses in the sixties? Was it me that let out my hair, a proud and bouncy light brown afro that resembled a halo? Was it me that got a chance to hear him speak, walk the line, picket the fence, defend, stand up, lay down arms and breath the sweet air of peaceful resistance? Was it Hopi prophecy or was it hope? I could no longer feel the limits of my body, define my space, separate myself from the others that huddled next to me, beside me, inside me. I was holding hands with Frieda Khalo and Paulo Freire, Arundhati Roy and Ghandi. I dressed like Che Guevara and smoked a cigarette with Malcolm X. I floated across the water with Tin Shed and the brothers and sisters from Amistad. bell hooks, Noam Chomsky, Howard Zinn each held the hand of a child who marched in Birmingham while Gerla Weissman stood tall between Melanie Bush and Jawanza Kunjufu. Mary Crow Dog looked over me on the delivery room bed with my legs spread open welcoming my son into the world. It was the deepest pain, the coming together of all the world’s suffering that united me, reminded me that I am but a wave in the ocean of all life and we are together making a difference, one moment at a time, one word, one breath, one small thing at a time. It was today, that I felt this in my throat when I held my daughter’s hand in the voting booth, when I took my turn at deciding our fate, and saying thank you, thank you Barack Obama for reminding us of Toltstoy. The Kingdom of God is Within You and we have every day – a choice.
This campaign, this memorable campaign has made all the difference in my life and I share that with you as so many of you are feeling the same. Whether in small groups or in a large audience or in the quiet space of you alone you – acknowledge that no matter what the outcome of this election, we will never be the same. There is a difference. Over the last six months, I have talked more about the issues that mean the very most to me and my loved ones, my family and my community, my country and the global village than I have ever before. Concentrated in this point of time, in this history in the making, where courageous conversations and the art of dialogue have slowly become more routine. Not the norm, just more routine. I have felt every emotion. I have felt indignant and shame. I have felt embarrassed and courageous. I have felt loving and tolerant. I have felt shock and hatred. I have felt humility and godliness. I have felt joy. I have felt sorrow. I have felt like John Stewart and I laugh. I continue to cry. However, I have not felt alone. I have felt so a part of the rest of humanity that I am beginning to understand the power of hope and the power of talk and the power of change and the power of how one man, one person, one voice can echo in each and every one of us and make a difference. A difference that we can feel. A difference that vibrates energy.
On this November 4th day, before the tally has been count, I want to publicly thank Barack Obama for playing this awful, brutal game we call politics. I want to thank him not for what he promises, but for what he has done. Not for perfection, but for his excellence. Not for tomorrow, but for today. And whether you vote for “septic” over “sewer” or if you’ll sacrifice the mass good for your own personal conscience (Alinsky, 1971) or whether you decide to vote independent to advocate for a multi-party system — I want to thank each one of you for participating. And of course, for those of you who have invested just a little bit more, then, well, I thank you more.
There are only two things that I am certain of at this point – and that is regardless of what we might feel tomorrow morning. One, is that we are definitely evolving. And two, I am a sap, after all.