Sunday, May 6, 2007

Obama for President

Barack Obama is my new favorite person who I haven't met but would like to one day. Or put a different way, he is my new favorite celebrity whom I'd like to have a cup of coffee with. I just finished reading Larissa Macfarquhar's article about him in the most recent New Yorker (May 7) and if you don't have the energy/will to read Dreams from My Father read this article ("The Conciliator"). I read Dreams from My Father for a book group earlier in the year, and if I hadn't already decided that Obama was prime presidential material, I am thoroughly convinced that of all the candidates running, he is the one with a vision for the U.S. beyond politics as usual. And more importantly, his sense of civic duty and social justice is inspiring.

Perhaps I'm equally attracted to the things Obama has discussed about race--specifically his own mixed-race background, but also his work in Chicago and his time spent in other places in the U.S. and in Kenya. And he doesn't shy away from talking about race. At least not in the book, which, granted, was written before he was a senator and before he announced his presidential candidacy. I don't believe Barack Obama is the best candidate because he's the first viable non-white candidate, the first demonstrably mixed-race candidate. But because his sense of race, that it is complex and thorny but need not be divisive, jibes with my own beliefs. For the first time in a long time, I feel excited about a presidential candidate. And at the very least, I think Obama's candidacy could push discussions and conversations about a mixed-race America more into the mainstream of American discourse.

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