Some cool news from Rwanda last week that hasn't been reported much. The small African nation now officially has the largest female majority parliament---in the world! The Speaker of the House is also a woman, Ms Mukantabana Rose and all were sworn in by President Kagame.
Here's a great summary by James Long on Kenya Imagine about the 2007 Kenyan Elections and the data gathered from exit polls. It seems Kenyans aren't as tribalistic as the media would have you believe. Check it out.
I feel like life in America opened up a bit today. Today, for the first time ever, I think we who live in America, especially as minorities can now say that anyone can at least RUN to be president of the United States.
No matter who wins, history will be made on either side, and that's pretty cool in and of itself. I think Palin and Obama prove several things:
So, today you really can tell that little minority kid or little girl that they too can be POTUS (President of the United States)
Want to go to the Democratic National Convention in Denver? You can if you are a state blogger, all you have to do is apply for official credentials. A requirements, among others, you have to blog about local/state politics. Heres more info:
Great piece in the New York Times by Josh Ruxin (who wrote this earlier balanced and narrative-busting piece during the heat of the Kenya Election Violence). This new one talks about President Bush's trip this week in Africa to check on the progress of his AIDS initiatives. He argues that while, yes the US needs to fund programs that fight AIDS and Malaria, the government should also invest in business/technology in Africa. Heres an excerpt to illustrate this point:
"In the community of Mayange, Rwanda, a Columbia University project recently rolled out voluntary counseling and testing for AIDS. While the community quickly took advantage of the new service, it was not exactly the talk of the town. Several weeks later, the basket weaving cooperative in Mayange received a purchase order for $2,000of coasters and placemats. The community has been talking about that ever since."
(Photo by Mandel Ngan)
Tuesday, February 12, 2008
Barack Obama has 8 straight wins, on top of the wins on Super Tuesday. He has now won 23/35 states and has won every region. He is not only the most viable African American candidate to ever vie for the presidency, but the most transcendent.
A friend of mine mentioned to me the other day that the only thing that her little sister and all her friends talk about in school is Barack Obama. The bright 14 year old was continually asks her big sister how many super delegates there are and how many it takes to actually secure the nomination. This is a little black girl in East Oakland.
I wish I could share with the world the sense of optimism that is in the balance for young people. It’s all that my friends are talking about and all their friends and so on. When Bill Clinton came in to power in 1992 I hadn’t moved to the States, it wasn’t until his reelection in 1996 that I started paying attention to politics and decided that I was a Democrat. Not unlike, my friends sister, I was a 13 year old who was witnessing an election with full awareness, for the first time. But with defeats in 2000 and 2004 the only revelation for me and many of my cohorts, was that the Democratic Party became just as complicit in George Bush’s misadventures as their colleagues. Almost like trying to jumpstart a Ferrari, the youth vote first dipped our collective toe in the 2000 election to no avail. Then, we pushed our anti-Bush desires on our man John Kerry, but as is now famously documented, the youth vote slept in. Amazed that an election can be “stolen twice” many had their sites on just making it to 2008 and the end of our Bush-dominated voting careers.
So now in 2008, we are four years older again and there’s some new brothers and sisters under our wings, some of whom will turn 18 just before election day. Yet, progressives in the party are still few and far between on Capitol hill, (and we try not to mention the party defectors). But what is really in short supply, so much so, that we didn’t even realize is, was good old-fashioned inspiration.
The thing I like most about Barack Obama, is his ability to inspire, not "hope" but inspire. One of the best quotes I've heard in awhile is this: “people are not persuaded, but attracted”. If all you want from your leader is someone who can tout “experience”, then that’s where we part ways. I want someone who can lead and inspire people to be their better selves. Someone who will demand excellence and elevate discourse for the entire country. That's the definition good leadership. Is this Obama? Well, is it anyone else right now?
He is the smartest (he hasn't made too many gaffes), most organized (his campaign is almost flawless in grassroots organizing from ground up), most authentic (listen to his non-speeches) and most inspiring (carrying youth vote and new voters handily) candidate. If this is lost on you then you are not paying attention. I believe it was Tim Russet on MSNBC who noted that if November does end up being an Obama V McCain election, it will be the widest gap in age between candidates in American presidential history. If there was a case to be made that this election was a grand entrance for eldest of the Generation Xers then this is it. Meanwhile, us Millennials are Ferrari now at a yellow light “Waiting for the World to Change”. I don’t think we’ll be sleeping in this time.
So I've been weighing whether to have more commentary on the US Elections here, the con being that this isn't really a political a blog and the pro being that I love this stuff, and that one of the candidates happens to be "Afropolitan" (although I'm not sure if he would agree/like that term or not). So I've come to the conclusion that since this is my blog I'll do as I please! Ok, well not anything crazy.
But I've just been inhaling every bit of news on the primaries/caucuses and would like to throw in my 25 cents worth (now that I'm 25). This decision also on the heels of endorsing Obama for president.
First thing's first, is he electable? I think yes. For many reasons, the most important being that Clinton divides, he unites. It's kinda that simply. Second, he has a built in energizer bunny electorate. They are going with him straight to November. If he is does not win the nomination, many will stay home feeling disenchanted yet again (for what it's worth I'll grudgingly vote for Clinton). However, if he wins the nomination, her voters will most likely flow to Obama. I haven't heard anyone say that they will stay home if Obama is the nominee but I heard plenty say they will abstain from voting if Hilary gets the nod. That's not good for Dems.
Third, honestly, if you put Obama v McCain, he can out campaign him. We already see that McCain is largely being forced onto conservatives (most of the people who would vote for McCain are Democrats, Independents or moderate republicans). Everyone else is flocking to Huckabee. Baring an unforeseen accident or good old fashioned rigging, Obama looks likely to win in 2008. I will refer back to this post in November and see if I was right or if I was fatefully (yes there will be blood) wrong.
I had seen this somewhere else on the web, but caught it again on Stereohyped:
Original AP article:
Why do we allow this to happen? Again, I think of Madonna's $10,000/month Kabbalah water. Or...my Lucky Jeans...ouch
I'm gonna find more orgs to list under my "Take Action" link which is dreadfully anemic.
Here's a great piece from Alternet about yesterday's touchdown win by Barack Obama in South Carolina.
"That's right, South Carolina. The first state to secede from the Union when that pesky "War of Northern Aggression" became inevitable. Hotbed of slaveholding activities as late as 1860, with 45.8 percent of all white families holding slaves -- the highest rate in the nation. Home to legendary states rights leader and segregationist presidential candidate Strom Thurman. And the last place in the USA where the Confederate flag was allowed to retain its place of so-called honor, flying atop the State House dome until the year 2000 -- 135 years after the abolition of slavery, in case you're counting."
Here is a story I found fascinating. Its from 2005, but I still found it engaging and learned a thing or two about communities that struggle to find a collective identity after being written off in history books. In 1810 30% of Argentinians were black. Now it is 1.8%. The article states that the conventional knowledge says the reason for the drop had been either war, where they were on the frontlines, or yellow fever. But they're still there, albeit some of them a little lighter skinned.
I found it curious that people who visibly look black are forced to pass as white, since (at the time of this article), there was no racial category of "Afro-Argentine" for them to check. So essential Argentina is all white. Really? I think something similar happens in Brazil, where people say they are "muy, muy moreno" instead of "negro".
Argentina was interested in presenting itself as a white country," said George Reid Andrews, a history professor at the University of Pittsburgh who has specialized in black history in Latin America. "Its ideologues and writers put a great emphasis on the yellow fever epidemic and the war, and it was feasible to pretend that the black population had simply disappeared as immigration exploded."
Silvina Frydlewsky of the Washington Post
Estimates of the current population of blacks in Buenos Aires are essentially wild guesses, partly because the Argentine government has not reflected African racial ancestry in its census counts in well over a century."
Wow, I must say that I am taken a back by some of the Obama articles. Trust Black people to be the first to criticize before praise--we're so good at brining each other down, everyone else just need watch from the side. As a Kenyan-American myself, I guess I know I'm not African American (although I am in some sense), but darned if I don't walk into a store and get treated as such.
I'm just really sad, that there is so much pessimism and cynicism. What kind of knight in shining armor type Black Candidate are we looking for? Jesse Jackson? Al Sharpton? Colin Powell? Barack Obama is playing the game of politics to get elected. I really think he's gonna pull a "Spook Who Sat By the Door"--and yeah maybe he'll get shot as this sentences suggests:
"But what if Obama goes in, takes a seat, and starts to hear from those nagging Blacks, Latino/as, poor and working-class? What if he starts to buckle under that pressure like say Kennedy or Johnson before him? Then what? There won’t be a whole lot of love then."
I swear you guys at BC act like he's not a black man! Like he's a white guy with black face on. First of all, how many Black people do you know with white mothers and no relationship with the black father, who consider themselves black AND are embraced by the community? There's quite a few! But I guess it doesn't count when your father is African (???). Its like when I talk to black people about Obama (legitimate issues like his record aside) they say things that make me wonder if they'll ever recognize the "Real Black Presidential Candidate" when he appears? Not saying this is Barack, but I am just so, so sad, that this is the response from BC. I've been anxiously waiting for some Obama coverage since they have been on break: nothing but haterade. I'm actually more offended as a Kenyan American than as an Obama supporter. Ironically, their article on the recent Kenya elections is very good. Its amazing that people still have to pass the litmus test of "Are you Black Enough?".
This is issue is of importance to Afropolitans. Barack is an Afropolitan. He is partly of African descent, lived abroad and grew up in the States but has ties to Africa. But articles like the one above admonish him for being "a little different" but at the same time demand that he "represent our resistance" as the title suggests. You can't have it both ways. This exposes the general unease that Black people have with his candidacy for several reason. One of which I think is change, which funny enough, Obama is calling for.
Yesterday I was the 5th person to sign the petition and after seeing that, I thought it wouldn't go far. 24 hours later there are 872 signatures from over 33 countries (including, ) and 36 states (Including ??).
Who knew there were Kenyans in these places?? This just shows that the world's eyes are watching the list.and that its more important than ever that we tread carefully and make the right decisions. I'll be updating
hoping for the best,
The world always criticizes Africa for allowing dictatorships and corruption to persist. Well something happened last week in Kenya that has mobilized Africans all across the world. This is the last straw, and we are fighting to say that in 2008 you can't rig an election in broad daylight and get away with it.
Please sign this petition.