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Discussing "Dreams of my Father" Obama's book

Discussion in 'House of Debates' started by XCALIDEM, Aug 4, 2008.

  1. XCALIDEM

    XCALIDEM Active Member

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    I was wondering if any of you have read "Dreams of My Father" Obama's book?

    What doyou think of it and do you think that Obama still holds a grudge towards wgite people based on his own words on that book
    ?


    Here's a excerpt from the book:

    From The TimesSeptember 6, 2007

    Obama: my lessons in racism
    Barack Obama was aged 2 when his African father left his mother. Growing up in Hawaii with her and his white grandparents, he describes the experiences that defined him as a young black man in America

    I was trying to raise myself to be a black man in America, and beyond the given of my appearance no one around me seemed to know exactly what that meant. TV, movies, the radio; those were the places to start. Pop culture was colour-coded, after all, an arcade of images from which you could cop a walk, a talk, a step, a style. I couldn’t croon like Marvin Gaye, but I could learn to dance all the Soul Train steps. I couldn’t pack a gun like Shaft or Superfly, but I could sure enough curse like Richard Pryor.

    And I could play basketball, with a consuming passion that would always exceed my limited talent. My father’s Christmas gift of a basketball [he had visited briefly when Obama was 10] had come at a time when the University of Hawaii basketball team had slipped into the national rankings on the strength of an all-black starting five that the school had shipped in from the mainland. That same spring Gramps had taken me to one of their games, and I had watched the players in warm-ups, still boys themselves but to me poised and confident warriors, glancing over the heads of fawning fans to wink at the girls on the sidelines, casually flipping layups or tossing high-arcing jumpers until the whistle blew and the centres jumped and the players joined in furious battle.

    I decided to become part of that world and began going to a playground near my grandparents’ apartment after school. By the time I reached high school [from age 14] I was playing on Punahou’s teams and could take my game to the university courts, where a handful of black men, mostly gym rats and has-beens, would teach me an attitude that didn’t just have to do with the sport. That respect came from what you did and not who your daddy was. That you didn’t let anyone sneak up behind you to see emotions – such as hurt or fear – you didn’t want them to see. My wife will roll her eyes about now. She grew up with a basketball star for a brother and when she wants to wind either of us up she will insist that she’d rather see her son play the cello. She’s right, of course; I was living out a caricature of black male adolescence, itself a caricature of swaggering American manhood.

    At least on the basketball court I could find a community of sorts, with an inner life all its own. It was there that I would make my closest white friends, on turf where blackness couldn’t be a disadvantage. And it was there that I would meet Ray and the other blacks close to my age who had begun to trickle into the islands, teenagers whose confusion and anger would help shape my own.

    “That’s just how white folks will do you,” one of them might say when we were alone. Everybody would chuckle, and my mind would run down a ledger of slights: the first boy, in seventh grade, who called me a coon; his tears of surprise (“Why’dya do that?”) when I gave him a bloody nose. The tennis pro who told me that I shouldn’t touch the schedule of matches pinned to the bulletin board because my colour might rub off; his thin-lipped, red-faced smile – “Can’t you take a joke?” – when I threatened to report him.

    That’s just how white folks will do you. It wasn’t merely the cruelty involved; I was learning that black people could be mean and then some. It was a particular brand of arrogance, an obtuseness in otherwise sane people that brought forth our bitter laughter. It was as if whites didn’t know that they were being cruel in the first place. Or at least thought you deserving of their scorn. White folks. The term itself was uncomfortable in my mouth at first; I felt like a nonnative speaker tripping over a difficult phrase. Sometimes I would find myself talking to Ray about white folks this or white folks that, and I would suddenly remember my mother’s smile and the words that I spoke would seem awkward and false. Or I would be helping Gramps dry the dishes after dinner and Toot [his grandmother] would come in to say that she was going to sleep, and those same words – white folks – would flash in my head like a bright neon sign, and I would suddenly grow quiet, as if I had secrets to keep.

    Later, when I was alone, I would try to untangle these difficult thoughts. It was obvious that certain whites could be exempted from the general category of our distrust: Ray was always telling me how cool my grandparents were. The term white was simply a shorthand for him, I decided, a tag for what my mother would call a bigot. And although I recognised the risks in his terminology – Ray assured me that we would never talk about whites as whites in front of whites without knowing exactly what we were doing. Without knowing that there might be a price to pay. But was that right? Was there still a price to pay? That was the complicated part, the thing that Ray and I never could seem to agree on.

    There were times when I would listen to him tell some blonde girl he’d just met about life on LA’s mean streets, or hear him explain the scars of racism to some eager young teacher, and I could swear that just beneath the sober expression Ray was winking at me, letting me in on the score. Our rage at the white world needed no object, he seemed to be telling me, no independent confirmation; it could be switched on and off at our pleasure. Sometimes, after one of his performances, I would question his judgment, if not his sincerity. We weren’t living in the Jim Crow South, I would remind him. We weren’t consigned to some housing project in Harlem or the Bronx. We were in Hawaii. We said what we pleased, ate where we pleased; we sat at the front of the bus. None of our white friends, guys like Jeff or Scott from the basketball team, treated us any differently than they treated each other. They loved us and we loved them back. ****, seemed like half of ’em wanted to be black themselves – or at least Doctor J.

    Well, that’s true, Ray would admit. Maybe we could afford to give the bad-assed-****** pose a rest. Save it for when we really needed it. And Ray would shake his head. A pose, huh? Speak for your self.

    One day in spring Ray and I met up after class and began walking to the stone bench that circled a big banyan tree on Punahou’s campus. It was called the Senior Bench, but it served mainly as a gathering place for the high school’s popular crowd, the jocks and cheerleaders and party-going set, with their jesters, attendants, and ladies-in-waiting jostling for position on the circular steps.

    1608080

    continue.......
     
  2. XCALIDEM

    XCALIDEM Active Member

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    Continuation:

    One of the seniors, a stout defensive tackle named Kurt, was there, and he shouted loudly as soon as he saw us. “Hey, Ray! Mah main man! What’s happenin’!” Ray went up and slapped Kurt’s outstretched palm. But when Kurt repeated the gesture to me, I waved him off. “What’s his problem?” I heard Kurt say to Ray as I walked away. A few minutes later, Ray caught up with me and asked me what was wrong. “Man, those folks are just making fun of us,” I said.

    “What’re you talking about?”

    “All that ‘Yo baby, give me five’ bull****.”

    “So who’s Mister Sensitive all of a sudden? Kurt don’t mean nothing.”

    “If that’s what you think, then hey . . .”

    Ray’s face suddenly glistened with anger. “Look,” he said, “I’m just getting along, all right? Just like I see you getting along, talking your game with the teachers when you need them to do you a favour. All that stuff about ‘Yes, Miss Snooty *****, I just find this novel so engaging, if I can just have one more day for that paper, I’ll kiss your white ass’. It’s their world, all right? They own it, and we in it. So just get the f*** outta my face.”

    By the next day, the heat of our argument had dissipated, and Ray suggested that I invite our friends Jeff and Scott to a party that Ray was throwing out at his house that weekend. I hesitated for a moment – we had never brought white friends to a black party – but Ray insisted, and I couldn’t find a good reason to object. Neither could Jeff or Scott; they both agreed to come so long as I was willing to drive. So that Saturday night, after one of our games, the three of us piled into Gramps’s old Ford Granada and rattled out to Schofield Barracks, maybe 30 miles out of town.

    When we arrived the party was well on its way, and we steered ourselves toward the refreshments. The presence of Jeff and Scott seemed to make no waves; Ray introduced them around the room, they made some small talk, took a couple of the girls out on the dance floor. But I could see that the scene had taken my white friends by surprise. They kept smiling a lot. They huddled together in a corner. After maybe an hour, they asked me if I’d be willing to take them home.

    “What’s the matter?” Ray shouted over the music when I went to let him know we were leaving. “Things just starting to heat up.”

    “They’re not into it, I guess.” Our eyes met, and for a long stretch we just stood there, the noise and laughter pulsing around us.

    In the car, Jeff put an arm on my shoulder, looking at once contrite and relieved. “You know, man,” he said, “that really taught me something. I mean, I can see how it must be tough for you and Ray sometimes, at school parties . . . being the only black guys and all.”

    I snorted. “Yeah. Right.” A part of me wanted to punch him right there.

    We started down the road toward town, and in the silence, my mind began to rework Ray’s words that day with Kurt, all the discussions we had had before that, the events of that night. And by the time I had dropped my friends off, I had begun to see a new map of the world, one that was frightening in its simplicity, suffocating in its implications. We were always playing on the white man’s court, Ray had told me, by the white man’s rules. Whatever he decided to do, it was his decision to make, not yours, and because of that fundamental power he held over you, because it preceded and would outlast his individual motives and inclinations, any distinction between good and bad whites held negligible meaning.

    In fact, you couldn’t even be sure that everything you had assumed to be an expression of your black, unfettered self – the humour, the song, the behind-the-back pass – had been freely chosen by you. At best, these things were a refuge; at worst, a trap.

    Following this maddening logic, the only thing you could choose as your own was withdrawal into a smaller and smaller coil of rage, until being black meant only the knowledge of your own powerlessness, of your own defeat. And the final irony: should you refuse this defeat and lash out at your captors, they would have a name for that, too, a name that could cage you just as good. Paranoid. Militant. Violent. ******.

    ©Barack Obama 2007

    Dreams From My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance, by Barack Obama, published by Canongate Books, £12.99. Available for £11.69 from Times BooksFirst, 0870
     
  3. Dr.Who

    Dr.Who Well-Known Member

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    Setting the race stuff aside...

    I didn't know he was so violent.

    And he clearly paints himself as one who adopts the ideas of others to such a degree that he doesn't even know who he is.

    I also didn't know that he had such little judgement that he would document this stuff as recently as 2007.
     
  4. Bunz

    Bunz New Member

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    A few things, firstly, this book was originally published in 1995. And re-released in 2004. It is a reprint that was published for this article in 2007. I am making a half-a$$ed job of reading the Audacity of Hope. It is among three other books I am reading and hoping to have it done soon.

    As for being violent, well one might interpret that, but I would say, if it was me, give me a break, I was in High School. Granted I did get into a scuffle over the weekend, it was in defense of a friend, but I was much much more eager and quick to try and solve a tricky situation through throwing a punch.

    What I did notice from this exerpt, is that someone who comes from a mixed racial identity and having a parent largely absent from my life, the frustration and confusion of being a child with no control of that situation and being subjected to it, is very difficult and I can certainly relate to his sentiments. Being a Native kid raised by two very loving and accepting White Parents whom I would die for, there is still something missing, and people who are not intimately familiar with the situation will never understand.
     
  5. SW85

    SW85 New Member

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    Woah, woah, woah--

    It was published in 1995? Isn't that a few years before he became a State Senator?

    How the hell does a community organizer go about getting an autobiography published? Don't they normally reserve autobiographies for people who've done something?
     
  6. Pandora

    Pandora Well-Known Member

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    We have a similar situation, and I have that in common with Obama too. But we went about things differently, Obama and I.

    I grew up without a dad like him and bi racial, like him. My mother hated the native or Spanish side of us and (except the food) did not want us to have anything to do with that part of our lives. I looked for it anyway, but I looked for the best of it.

    Obama embraced it all. Gang banger, drugs exc. along with the culture. I embraced the traditions minus the drinking so much you take a base ball bat to your new car. I can relate to not having a dad, Dads are important, I can relate to being part of another race that maybe the parent you do live with either doesn’t like doesn’t accept or doesn’t care about. He could have embraced his community and culture without embracing the drugs, violence with it. I did and I am just a girl!
     
  7. Bunz

    Bunz New Member

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    My copy is the post 2004 printing. I doubt the 95 printing was anything more than a few thousand copies. Either way, I think his time as Harvard Law President is what triggered an initial interest in him. But either way, it was originally printed in 95.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dreams_from_My_Father
     
  8. UShadItComing

    UShadItComing New Member

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    Woah, Woah, is that jooish for whoa?
     
  9. SW85

    SW85 New Member

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    "Whoa"? What are you, Al Pacino in Scent of a Woman?
     
  10. UShadItComing

    UShadItComing New Member

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    There's always an excuse for a typo or spelling mistake but there's no excuse for stupidity.

    ------------------------

    Dictionary.com Unabridged (v 1.1) - Cite This Source - Share This
    whoa Audio Help /ʰwoʊ, woʊ/ Pronunciation Key - Show Spelled Pronunciation[hwoh, woh] Pronunciation Key - Show IPA Pronunciation
    –interjection stop! (used esp. to horses).


    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    [Origin: 1615–25; dial. var. of ho2]
    Dictionary.com Unabridged (v 1.1)
    Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2006.
     
  11. SW85

    SW85 New Member

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    :rolleyes:

    Who cares?
     
  12. UShadItComing

    UShadItComing New Member

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    It seems to me that you care very much because you're the one who wanted to pick out typos of mine for some mileage. Now you get yourself all testy when you find you can't spell simple words and I pick up on them. Typo my a-s!

    Woah, woah, woah, and your donkey just keeps going faster!

    Now continue on your way flailinig and bouncing out of control down the trail but be careful who you mess around with in the future when you want to be cute about spelling.
     
  13. SW85

    SW85 New Member

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    Huh? When have I ever mocked you on the basis of typos, you obnoxious little savage?

    I have pointed out your improper use of words, like "racist" and "uppity." But that's a matter of diction, not orthography. Your deliberate misuse of words to choke off debate or mangle the issues is quite a few orders of magnitude worse than harmless typos on an Internet forum about which I care more or less not at all.
     
  14. Federal Farmer

    Federal Farmer New Member

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    STILL insulting the members? Too bad, that's ANOTHER report on you!
     
  15. Pandora

    Pandora Well-Known Member

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    and dont forget he told big rob to shut up at least twice that I can think of


    and he said that I and then named a number of others were in a circle jerk
    that is a horrid sexual disgusting comment


    and he repeatedly insulted basicly ever member on this forum who is not a koolaid drinking Obama supporter
     
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