Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Dreams From My Father

I am reading Obama's first book, Dreams From My Father, that is a poignantly honest book about finding out who he was...about race...mixed race...and truly about what made the next President of the United States. It is a more important book than the Audacity of Hope because it is about what made him, it is more honest and it is before he had any real notoriety at all, i.e. before the 2004 convention speech.

In this short excerpt he writes with an understanding I have never (and I mean never) heard from a politician. An understanding that is truly remarkable, how poor communities perish under the capitalistic tendencies in this nation and abroad; destroying neighborhoods forever...he writes about his days community organizing and the destitution he witnessed and how it is the same everywhere, it just looks different. He weaves his childhood in with the work he does along with the feelings of loss and loneliness he feels and weaves a poetic look at our nation. You should read this book.

"It was the absence of such coherence that made a place like Altgeld [Gardens] so desperate, I thought to myself; it was that loss of order that made both Rafiq and Mr. Foster, in their own ways, so bitter. For how could we go about stitching a culture back together once it was torn? How long might it take in this land of dollars?

Longer than it took a culture to unravel, I suspected. I tried to imagine the Indonesian workers who were now making their way to the sorts of factories that had once sat along the banks of the Calumet River, joining the ranks of wage labor to assemble the radios and sneakers sold on Michigan Avenue. I imagined those same Indonesian workers, ten, twenty years from now, when their factories would have closed down, a consequence of new technology or lower wages in some other part of the globe. And then the bitter discovery that their markets have vanished; that they no longer remember how to weave their own baskets or carve their own furniture or grow their own food; that even if they remember such craft, the forests that gave them wood are now owned by timber interests, the baskets they once wove have been replaced by more durable plastics. The very existence of the factories, the timber interests, the plastics manufacturer, will have rendered their own culture obsolete; the values of hard work and individual initiative turn out to have depended on a system of belief that's been scrambled by migration and urbanization and imported TV reruns. Some of them would prosper in this new order. Some would move to America. And the others, the millions left behind in Djakarta, or Lagos or the West Bank, they would settle into their own Altgeld Gardens, into a deeper despair."

1 comment:

Daddydan said...

KR, great stuff, man.

I cant wait to read this book when I head up to NJ/NYC.

Obama's point is all too poignaant here in SP, Brazil. I see all around me sugar cane cutters on old busses, trying to work their hardest, almostlike slaves, before their jobs, their lives, are replaced by automatic cutters.

Progress is a word that has become such a murky word.