My Black President

obama emory douglas

I do not believe the presidency  of the United States of America is a sole proprietorship. I have  entertained a different idea every since I read Taylor Caldwell’s Captain’s and the Kings. Like most of the American public; I have often been instructed by fiction. Another fiction that helped to shape my political views is Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis. Some ideas are so dangerous they are only palatable as fictions. Some fictions are so artfully served they become accepted truths. I often pose the question, “What do you call a lie that is told over and over again?” The answer of course is, “The truth.” One fiction I have not subscribed to since childhood is the fiction of American Exceptionalism, another is the fiction of America the Great Democracy. Taylor Caldwell planted seeds in ground plowed by my understanding of living in the Nation within the Nation. Even as a child I hated Tarzan and rooted for the Indians.

According to my grandmother it is wise to stay out of arguments amongst fools least you be thought to be one of the fools. It is acting upon this sage advice that has kept me out of conversations about Barrack Hussein Obama. The conversations that bash him and the conversations that uplift him — well at least in public forums — if you know me you know I do have an opinion. And further if we are unwilling to reason with fools how will we ever build an army, point them in the right direction, or teach them how to fight and survive not just the battles but ultimately the war?

I am rather weary with the inane presidential conversations between otherwise brilliant individuals who have apparently bumped their heads and forgotten where they are, how they came to be here and the way in which they have lived until this moment in this country founded by white men for white men. While the North American public in general suffers from amnesia failing to remember and connect events in their own lived history with current events I find oppressed peoples apparent ability to avoid facts that they have lived though astounding and scary.

Obama. The night he became president for the first time I wondered briefly what poets of fire like myself would talk about now. I succumbed to being too long in the storm and ate a hope sandwich, cried as I thought about the moment through my great-grandmother’s eyes. Then I remembered where I was and how late in the day it was in North America barreling down a corporate  oiled pathway in a wartime economy with the doors open.

For a brief intoxicated moment I entertained possibility. However the white house was not painted black and the national anthem did not become One Nation Under A Groove.  I don’t think either expectation is too wild. Kings do what they want and although both gestures would have been symbolic and temporary it would have set the tone for a real departure from the declared course. Black ain’t nuthin but a color and lawd knows the nation is in desperate need of a new damn song.

While we are talking wild concepts let me kick the main objective of this essay: We don’t need a new dealer; we need a new deal. The paradigm we live in is broken and unfriendly to human beings, further nothing done within its logic can right it. We need a new paradigm. The system is rouge and we are the last line of defense. If we continue to think in the logic of this paradigm we are complicit in our current condition and ultimately our demise. If you just got unhappy with your government four years ago then I am probably not talking to you. You are free to go and have tea. But if you were unhappy four years ago and you think the source of your current condition is Obama then  I wonder why you thought  the crooked house of North America would do an about face because the dealer changed. The rules of the game remain the same. Dealers don’t own casinos.

I voted for Obama because he was black, sorta, and in particular because he was married to a black woman and his children look like mine. I am not politically simplistic I am not politically ensnared in the fiction of politics. I don’t think Obama is capable of changing my current situation single handedly or even necessarily interested in anything that I deem as essential in my lived reality. But I don’t think that any other president of the United States has been either. In reality I don’t know why he was drawn to politics  what motivates him now, or what legacy he will leave beyond being the first, which is pretty damn big. In this case the “first” president of color is a piece of theater, a beautiful distraction, but far from the end of a paradigm.

It’s business as usual in North America where our employees the politicians pulled a coup some time ago and now we live in fear of their action, or should I be truthful and say, we suffer because of their inaction. We sit and watch as republicans pull the pile to the left for seven years and then the democrats come back and pull it to the right for seven years. If you thought the republicans were right and the democrats were left pay attention it makes no difference the point is the trajectory never changes it remains dead center on the tracks greased by corporations. Our government is for sale, it is brought and paid for by lobbyist, who pander to politicians to ensure the will of their corporate masters be done.

I inherently have no faith in politicians I am not a subscriber to brand Obama or brand America for that matter. But that being said, the idea of Obama in the white house intrigues me on multiple levels.  If we are to be caught up in the theater why not play leading roles. There is an alternative; one can refuse to play. Our elders, expressed the sentiment, “I may be in it but I am not of it.”  I overstand.

Although we are “double minded” informed by our double existence in the belly of the SorrowLand surrounded by shiny shit we must strive for an inner clarity. This clarity is perhaps more important than consensus. We must agree what is looks like in order to plot a path elsewhere. We must understand the workings of this paradigm in order not to maintain or recreate it and rather  stive consciously to replace it.  We don’t have to agree on how to solve the problem.  It is in fact intelligent to work on it in a wholistic fashion from many angles at our own levels of engagement and understanding. But we must understand that in this moment we are under a constant and continued siege.  The American public, the people, are managed, manipulated, lied to, and imperiled.  Being in the Nation in the Nation and seeing is from that vantage I understand that what harms the whole here impacts me and mine with greater gravitas. An example would be the collapse of the housing bubble and the sub-prime loan debacle that ushered in a golden age of gentrification nation wide. A gift of “double vision” is to be able to see off center. We should use the gifts we have to help us to survive and envision a continued thriving in adversity.

Intellectually you must be clear where you stand. Do you subscribe to the fiction of North America the land of the free? Do you think that Obama himself is a nappy headed superman capable of leaping over history to carve us a new now single handedly, while surrounded by the old guard, fed only on our adoration? If the system he heads is broken why do we believe it will heal itself. Is he smart enough to change it if he took it on knowing it was broken. Who said, “They will always allow a Black man to turn off the lights?” Is correction his goal? If not what role is he really playing in this drama? Does he think it’s broke?  Is that what the talk about change meant? Or does he too think that if one can amass enough currency you can beat a crooked casino? Does he owe you more than the line of white men who came before him? Did you expect him to be the first honest politician? Why? To quote Twain, “An honest politician is an oxymoron.”

No president of America will save us if we don’t demand a drastic change in direction from the government that supposedly works for us but has not represented popular opinion in decades. America is not a democracy it is a plutocracy. This fact shapes its action and direction. It’s about cash. The main religion here is capitalism and we are all tossed up on its altar. The enslaved populace serves as consumerist fodder to keep the game in play. We are tourists in Disneyland, necessary but not the main objective — we are simply the means to the sacrosanct bottom line.

I offer this article on the enviorment and climate change as an entry point into what I consider the real conversation we should be having. This article,, deals with the affect of global capitalism on our environment but the story reads the same way no matter what thread we approach it on. We the people as a planet are living at the end of a slippery slope that began a lot longer than four years ago and it will take more than the efforts of a single politician to right.

Why do we hold each other to the same ‘run twice as fast to stay in the same place’ standards  that are imposed on us by oppressors invested in the maintenance of the status quo. Those who follow the rules of the casino are not the friends of the tourist allowed to wander in Disney Land as long as they can afford the rides. We don’t need a new dealer. We need the rules of the game to change. We need to take back the wheel or we will continue to get run over by it no matter what color the conductor. If we continue to willingly play in a crooked game we reap what is.

Obama is a character in the  fiction of  Democratic America the home of the brave where elections are free and we Americans are examples of some sort of  exceptionality. These are among the many fictions you must be wholly invested in to consider holding any singular president accountable for a change in the American trajectory that has endured through republican and democratic reigns.

ObamaKing2_0    (photo accompanied Nat Turner’s  work Coronation>)

The powers of the office of president have expanded as so called “civilization” has evolved.  The imperial view of the presidency began with Nixon. Why is it Obama gets the crown? What type of exceptionalism is being called for, by whom, on what basics? Or is the random and ribald rhetoric from the right and left just dialogue to support a plot twist in a reality show we have become suddenly convinced is real? If I were writing a poem I would insert a line here like, “and the band played on” to underline how we are misdirected by nonsense while we are all on the edge of catastrophe. I kinder moments  I accuse us of engaging in the wrong conversations. Secretly I think we fear the actions that would be required were we to engage in conversations that fit better.

Obama’s just a man all superstition to the side one pants leg at a time and all that. The operative world here is man. It seems that humans are the flaw in all forms of government as they are susceptible to the material promise of the devil global capitalism. We all want to be like Mike. It’s the paradigm man. We are what we have and those who sold us the idea are the most addicted to it; all will never be enough.

Maybe I’ll do a part two. Provably in response to some irate comments from normally rationale people whom I respect despite their great investment in the American fiction and their newfound demands upon the lead polytrickster. But in the meantime I will continue to enjoy seeing Obama standing at the helm while I try my damdest to wake up enough of us to keep the ship from sinking.

What I am trying to convey is that while I understand the frustration at Obamas failure to paint the white house black I do not understand why we actually expected him to. If anyone actually thought him capable of such divinely daringly rakish behavior he would not be the 45th president of the United States. As president of these United Snakes (yes I use the terms interchangeably)  what did we really expect? I say turn on some Al Green and take lots of pictures we are witnessing history just not the history we so desperately desire and need to collectively demand.

We are credited with driving the car. We must seize the wheel and drive. We can’t allow anyone to act in our name that does not represent our will. If the electoral system does not allow us a choice we must choose to reform or recreate it. If the office of president or king is not working for us lets redefine the job description. But quite crying. And quit throwing rocks at my president.

I claim Barrack like I claimed the rest of this broke down mess. I also claim us the American people, sheep like and deserving of the is we got because we accept it. I also claim hope — prehaps foolishly– that we can change in time to save ourselves. Finally I accept my Blackness, my Africaness, as it translates here in the belly of the SorrowLand of North America and I shake my head when I see us so messed up we can’t enjoy the moment because we fell into the fairytale and forgot what time it really was. Try to see this with your great-great grandparents eyes and then move on to making the pendulum move. For real.

 Kings of America

 The Kings of America

stole the constitution

took a piss on the bill of

rights Kings of America

killed the free press made

corporations people forgot

they work for the people

ain’t thinking about the people

lock ‘em up for blowing whistles

telling the truth waking the

sheep Kings of America like

it best when sheep sleep

while they suppress voters

cut safety nets close schools

privatize prisons throw elections

at home and abroad 

Kings of America two party

bullshit let the people eat

cow pies elections look like

soap operas who blew who

bend on over I thought you knew

Kings of America well educated

plantation masters sing slaves

1 per cent own 90 percent 90

per cent better learn to tap dance

grab a starbucks cup and learn

to beg for alms in a 3rd world

America Kings of America

look to build fortunes

overseas growth of capital by

any means criminals at war

around the globe police soldiers

in the USA flack jackets for dogs

RIP DeAndre Burston

and other citizens with no guns

who run shoot them in the back

American ghettos under attack

studied  legislated  dissolved by

gentrification marginalized

beyond imagination Kings of

America treading on the down

trodden downpressors passing

pressure down no bananas for

gorillas Monsanto ate them all

no bins for the loonys Reagan

freed ‘em all to wander in the dessert

starbuck cups in hand a testament

to freedom wrote in sand big brother

still crazy from Viet Nam Kings of

America want my cousin to go to

Afghanistan why he can go crazy

and die right here and be just as

American thought I heard some

people marching heard them singing

in the fog I could tell their eyes were

open and I knew they saw it all

they were looking for some

justice I felt the passion in the

cries thought I heard some people marching

dogs chains fire hoses

freedom sought

hard fought

eradicated eroded imperiled

by Kings with out a song

who have betrayed

the dreams of water dirt and man

for the sound of accumulation

American Kings have made

fodder of us all

I thought I heard people marching

said they were going down

to Justice hall

hard to sleep when your eyes are open

hard to put the fire out

American Kings and holy water

coronations remote assassinations continued

exploitation rendered shore to shore

bigger than god in a digital age

where its all in the stability of

the brand the fluidity of

your fan base and your bandwidth

If you are the flavor of the hour

they all with you hungry for change

meaning and hope

hungry for integrity

truth and a way home

I thought I heard some people marching

hard to sleep with your eyes open

said they was going down

to freedom hall

hard to put the fire out

I could see their eyes were open

I know they saw it all

hard to sleep with eyes open

© A Nzinga, 2012

Additional Reading:

About Ayodele Nzinga, MFA, PhD

I create; therefore I am.
This entry was posted in I'm Just Saying!, non fiction essay, North American African Perspective, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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