I'm headed to Denver tomorrow morning for the Democratic National Convention. I'm excited to see folks, to see the shows and get a first-hand glimpse of the Democratic Machine. But in all honesty, I'm afraid.
Almost everyone is telling me how honored I should be to go to such a historic event. And no doubt, I'm humbled, privileged and flattered. But the Obama game, which I've never quite gotten into on the fanatic level that most folks around me have, is losing me.
Obama's recent selection of Joe Biden as his Vice Presidential running mate kinda sealed the deal for me. Biden might not be a bad guy. In fact, I don't know too much about his policies, his history in the senate, or his outlook for America. My lack of enthnusiasm is in part due to the fact that he's the antithesis of the Obama hype -- old, white and with a penchant to say racist shit. Like I've said many times before, the father the campaign rolls along, the more Obama looks like the new blackface of the political establishment.And Obama, because of necessity, has bad to brand his messages of hop and change in much the same way
A few months ago I spoke briefly to a well-respected, seasoned hip-hop journalist about his analysis of multicultalism and race in America. I'm probably taking his analysis way out of context, but his take went something like this: first the demographics change, then then culture changes, and slowly but surely, the political establishment changes. But change doesn't mean progress. Latinos are the fastest growing racial group in America, and already outnumber whites in the state of California. Yet immigration debates have reached an all-time high, and migrant workers continue to be imprisoned, deported and killed. From TJ Crawford to Soledad O'Brien in network newsrooms to Tyra Banks, Diddy, and the ever-so-classy New York, people of color are everywhere in popular culture. But when New York walks the streets of LA asking anyone she thinks might be Asian about Japanese culture, can you really call that progress?
And now there's Obama. Maybe I'm just severely uninformed. Or maybe I'm just a cynic. But putting a Black face on a white establishment just doesn't seem all that progressive to me. Groundbreaking? For sure. He's one of the most charismatic leaders in our nation's collective history. On par, if not far superior, to the allure of JFK.
And his campaign has been genius, the perfect combination of grassroots organizing, political and cultural branding, and the ever-so-important cool. He's changed the hip-hop game in ways that not even Jay-Z could fathom. He's an internationally bred, post Civil Rights baby who's Ivy League educated and listens to Jay-Z. Needless to say, hip-hop heads, mixed kids, Jack and Jill-type Black folks, most white liberals and baby boomer Black folks are all in his corner.
And according to the stats, I guess I should be too.
But as I get ready to leave for Denver, more than anything, I'm afraid. Afraid that the convention that will be like shopping at Wal-Mart during a 50% off sale -- oversaturated but with little substance. Afraid that I'll see the media cameras, the parties and the delegates and feel horribly out of place. Afraid that we've traded critical consciousness for political idealism. Afraid that we're confusing "change" with "progress."
Or maybe I'm just one of those oft-studied urban youths with street allegiances, hood cynicism and a college degree too insecure to plant one foot sternly in either world.
Next up: Cynthia McKinney, Rosa Clemente and the Obama Movement.