Monday, February 11, 2008


“Think for yourself and your own truth to decide for yourself why enthusiastic, upscale, intelligent, young, bold, and optimistic voters choose the brilliance of Obama” --- Ophra Winfrey.

History does repeat itself. In the 70's there was a spiritual discussion with guest Dr. Florence Kennedy (NY), in the U.C. Riverside student lounge over whether or not African American women needed to align themselves with their men or to align with white women. The brainstorm was whether the advancement of Black women was more important than the advancement of Black men. Emphasis was placed on women having children in and out of wedlock when they chose men who were not breadwinners, not motivated to build strong families, not mentors and teachers, and without strong spiritual centers. In those days, the result of the Moynihan Report was the huge elephant in the room. She cautioned us that Milton Friedman’s economic concept of "the powers that be" would use divide and conquer within the African American community to keep it down as they had done in Hawaii, Guatemala, Panama, the Philippine Islands and other Central and South American countries, now called the “Shock Doctrine” aka Naomi Klein. I have to admit in those days, that I had no idea who economist Milton Friedman was and his working at the University of Chicago but it made sense.

The epidemic of Black women being employed over Black men in the area, caused women to feel like caregivers, pimped for economic resources in exchange for companionship dating back to “slavery time”, the birth of cognitive dissonance. Kennedy encouraged us that no matter how much we were drawn sexually to certain men, to resist the urge to go to bed with men just because they flattered us and made us feel good. Men weren't being hired in proportion to their white counterparts but Kennedy assured us this wasn't an excuse for men to use women. We were challenged to think before we acted, to encourage our men to delay sexual gratification, have dreams, make educational strides to improve themselves, stop the cycle of destruction, trust themselves, be passionate about their life pursuits, find God or their spiritual center.

We were reminded that someone had opened the door for us so we needed to remember this when we entered the labor force, shared information, and supported one another through struggles instead of feeling superior to those less fortunate than ourselves because tomorrow wasn’t promised. We were encouraged to listen to our higher power when making decisions. We were cautioned to not forget that some people didn't recognize, know or understand opportunity. At times, Kennedy said, we all needed assistance finding the door and walking through it with our experience. She suggested, however, that we were supposed to be there for those individuals having difficulty but remember we served people best by “walking our talk” or being the example we wanted others to be. We were young in those days and maybe thought this required higher responsibility and continuity. And it does. We knew we were standing on the shoulder of those before us, hence we had a responsibility being of the W. E .B. DuBois’s Talented Tenth.

I can't believe I have lived to see this being played out publicly in the questioning of the loyalty of Ophra and Obama. Ophra's years of life contributions (being centered, having a positive attitude, recognizing our own foolishness and the cycles of self destruction, Angel Foundation, raising children, wearing the appropriate bra, accessing the right pair of jeans, getting off of welfare, voter rights, mental health days, the cost of convictions--the beef debacle—the KKK confrontation, weight loss, being on a budget, book recommendations, accentuating great careers, role models, excellent teachers, life coaches etc. are now being questioned and framed as "loyalty".

I see the divisiveness of the Clinton campaign. “Those who don't like me are my enemy” is narrow minded thinking. Is this an indication of the Hillary "diplomacy" to come? Many of us knew before this election began that Clinton wasn’t well liked and many Democrats didn’t like her. Personally, I haven’t met her but from what I read about her, I am not impressed. I respect that she is a candidate for President and she just might win. But I believe because someone of the same gender, race, religion, sexual preference, etc is running for office doesn’t mean I can't see beyond similarities and dissimilarities. Hillary’s hidden agenda is to thumb her nose at Republicans. She admits that she has been fighting her for sixteen years. This doesn’t appeal to me. I feel that that is her personal pursuit. Notice after the debate she finally started using the words “us” and “we”. Prior she was using the “I” and “me” words. Now she is using “change” and spinning off of Obama’s “yes we can” message with farm worker’s “Si Se Puede” which Hillary has a difficult time pronouncing. Obama’s ability to see that our political cause should be larger than ourselves does appeal to me. My position was solidified when Hillary chided Bill was just “out of control” and overly exuberant when he slapped Obama’s record as a “fairy tale”. Her demonstrative zeal to discredit Obama made me rethink Hillary. Bill’s apologizing today for not knowing that hammering Obama to defend Hillary wasn’t the correct response of a spouse, is a little too late to be believable. The Clintons’ lost face and credibility in South Carolina and many voters haven’t forgotten it. Let’s face it, the Clintons’ are professional politicians and they know what “push polling” is and how to plant a negative seed “to meet their goals”. I am voting and responding against that “old school way of doing politics”: demonizing, lying about, and pretending you aren’t aware of your “team members’” blatant behavior or pulling out of a situation to show clean hands when everyone in the room knows these are patterns of your behavior.

I believe with Ophra’s resources she sees this and puts her reputation on the line. Obama, like Ophra, brings out the best in folks. Last Sunday with Caroline Kennedy, Michelle Obama, and Maria Shriver on stage, Ophra (UCLA assembly for Obama 2/3/8) warned us “don’t be played small” because brilliance is what you stand for. Yes, I believe some people relish pain, fear, denial, resulting in family dysfunction, competing with the Jones and hopelessness. I allow them to own it.

Florence Kennedy, like Ophra, encouraged us to choose leadership that is spiritually based, requiring creative imagination, steeped in wisdom which has no color or gender. And again I became rejuvenated to think for myself and “my own truth” to decide for myself why bold, enthusiastic, intelligence, upscale, young, and optimistic voters choose the brilliance of Obama
or Fired up and Ready to Go! because our government depends on the spiritual ground roots in order to change.

Minerva Williams,
Mighty Thunder