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Blog Entries tagged 'obama'

Auntie

Today at the pool, about ten kids I didn't know called me "Auntie." Here in Hawaii it happens every day.

"Auntie! Watch me put my head underwater!"

"Auntie! My sister can jump, you want to see her?"

"Auntie! Will you help me get my towel?"

 "Auntie! Can you show me how to kick my legs while I hold onto the edge of the pool?"

I'm always taken aback by the fearlessness of the kids. They trust me immediately. I'm an Auntie--an elder-- and their sense is that I will take care of them. 

It reminds of something very old. And something very new. Something many of us have lost and are looking to regain. 

Innocence. Trust. Ease.

In Hawai'i it's called O'hana-- Family. 

Now each time a child calls me "Auntie" I feel so proud. That they've chosen me, that they trust me. They ask. I give. It's so easy. I haven't forgotten. 

 

April 16th, 2009

Still human after all these years.

April 15th, 2009

The Headscarf--Revisioned

I really love the way this discussion about the hijab is continuing to evolve in the midst of The Obama Transition.

From Huff Post:

As always, the nexus of the clash between the West and Islam is the role of women. The Turkish sociologist Nilufer Golë has put her finger somewhat provocatively on precisely what secularists fear might be taken away, but also on what Muslim women are gaining.

"In contrast with the West," she has written, "where the public sphere was first formed by the bourgeoisie and excluded the working class and women, in the Muslim context of modernity women have been the makers of public space. In the Muslim context, the existence of democratic public space depends on the social encounter between the sexes and on the eroticization of the public sphere."

The wearing of the headscarf in universities -- which the AKP sought to allow -- is the flash point of the conflict. To be sure, the headscarf issue signals changing private and public distinctions through the re-entry of religion into the public arena of modern Turkey. But since headscarf proponents argue that it will enhance the opportunities of women in higher education, it also serves as a critique of the idea that only secularism equals modernity.

"Women proponents of the headscarf distance themselves from secular models of feminist emancipation," Gole argues, "but they also seek autonomy from male interpretations of Islamic precepts. They want access to secular education so they can follow new paths in life that don't conform to traditional gender roles, yet they also seek to fashion a new pious self. They are searching for ways to become Muslim and modern at the same time, transforming both."

In short, the established meaning of Islamic veiling is undergoing a radical transformation -- from a symbol of Muslim female submission and seclusion in the private sphere to a badge of public, assertive Muslim womanhood. For Gole, this sign of stigma and inferiority is in the process of being inverted into a sign of empowerment and prestige.

More

April 7th, 2009

Today

April 1st, 2009

Da Kine!

I love this! Living in Hawaii, I can't tell you how close to home this hits.

March 13th, 2009

Howard Zinn on Obama, from Alternet

Excerpt of Liliana Segura's fascinating interview with dear family friend and ultimate power-to-the-people historian, Howard Zinn. Thoughts? 

From Alternet

LS: What do you think about Obama and the fact that he's following the trajectory of the Bush administration with the whole "war on terror"? You endorsed him, right?

Howard Zinn: Endorsed Obama? (Laughs.) Yes -- I endorsed Obama, I wanted him to win. I wanted Bush and Cheney out of there. I wanted change -- and the truth is I didn't have much choice. It was Bush or Obama. I chose Obama. And, in fact, I was hopeful. Not too hopeful, because I know something about American history. I know how much hope has resided in presidents, and I'm aware that presidents are political animals. I'm very much aware that Lincoln was a policitian and Roosevelt was a politician and, in fact, you might say the theme of my work is that we cannot depend on people in the White House. We can depend on people picketing the White House. So my attitude towards Obama has been watchful from the beginning in the sense that, okay, it's good to have Obama in there, I'm glad that he aroused a lot of people getting people involved in politics -- now I hope these people who have been aroused and energized will use that energy to push Obama in a direction different from the one he seems to be going in right now.

LS: What do you think about the comparisons between Obama and Roosevelt that came up following the election?

Howard Zinn: It's interesting, you know, if Langston Hughes were around, we could have a poem, "Waiting on Obama." But the difference is, we shouldn't be waiting on Obama. We should be informing Obama that we expect more from him than he has done so far. Now, he has done some things that have moved in the right direction on domestic policy. In terms of the federal government taking a more aggressive stand in creating jobs, calling for a tax policy that will be directed at taking money from the richest one percent of the population, and easing the tax burden on other people, some of the initiatives he's taken have been good.

But his domestic policies are not bold enough. He is still doing too much through the market system, through private enterprise. For instance, right now he is having a a big conference with people who are giving him advice on the health system. But he has not shown an inclination to do what the public really wants and what is absolutely neeeded, and that is to institute a government-financed health system which will bypass the insurance companies -- the kind of system they have in Canada, and France, Italy, New Zealand. He's not shown the boldness necessary in certain domestic programs, even though as I say, he's moving little bit at a time in the right direction.

The economic situation is so bad. Although it's not as bad as it was in 1932, it's bad enough that it calls for bolder domestic measures. It calls for the government to institute, as Roosevelt did in his first couple years, a huge jobs program. The federal government under Roosevelt gave jobs to six million people; if you did it proporational to population, Obama would be creating a jobs program that would give jobs to ten million peope. He's very far from that. If he were bold enough, he would be instituting a federal arts program -- one of the very best things that came out of the New Deal -- where artists and musicians and writers and poets would be given jobs by the government to do the things they wanted to do. These are people who are bypassed by the market system. Artists struggle and they have to take other meanigless jobs in order to continue to do their art. And that's all, as I said, with his domestic policy.

With his foreign policy, unfortunately, he shows no signs of departing from the traditional militarism of the Democratic and Republican parties. The idea of sending more troops to Afghanistan is disastrous, really absurd. I mean, almost as soon as he came into office he sent missiles into Pakistan. Civilians were killed. The whole tone of foreign policy, adding more soldiers, leaving 50,000 in Iraq even after withdrawing them in 16 months, all of this is very bad. And, therefore, he's going to need a great big push -- protest, really. He's going to need demonstrations and protest and letters and petitions. He's going to have to face the kind of agitation that Roosevelt faced when he came into office.

Full interview 

March 12th, 2009

Today, in Waikiki

Walking around Waikiki today, I felt I was inside of a postcard, or somehow trying to be inside of one. It was what it was supposed to be, this Waikiki, and yet it was all completely contrived. It was once what it was, but it was now trying to be what it was. It succeeded, but left me wondering if it ever existed in the first place.
 
This excerpt from White Noise by Don Delillo summed up my feelings perfectly:

"Several days later Murray asked me about a tourist attraction known as the most photographed barn in America. We drove 22 miles into the country around Farmington. There were meadows and apple orchards. White fences trailed through the rolling fields. Soon the signs started appearing.

THE MOST PHOTOGRAPHED BARN IN AMERICA.

We counted five signs before we reached the site. There were 40 cars and a tour bus in the makeshift lot. We walked along a cowpath to the slightly elevated spot set aside for viewing and photographing. All the people had cameras; some had tripods, telephoto lenses, filter kits. A man in a booth sold postcards and slides -- pictures of the barn taken from the elevated spot. We stood near a grove of trees and watched the photographers. Murray maintained a prolonged silence, occasionally scrawling some notes in a little book.

"No one sees the barn," he said finally.

A long silence followed.

"Once you've seen the signs about the barn, it becomes impossible to see the barn."

He fell silent once more. People with cameras left the elevated site, replaced by others.

We're not here to capture an image, we're here to maintain one. Every photograph reinforces the aura. Can you feel it, Jack? An accumulation of nameless energies."

There was an extended silence. The man in the booth sold postcards and slides.

"Being here is a kind of spiritual surrender. We see only what the others see. The thousands who were here in the past, those who will come in the future. We've agreed to be part of a collective perception. It literally colors our vision. A religious experience in a way, like all tourism."

Another silence ensued.

"They are taking pictures of taking pictures," he said."

March 7th, 2009

In Love with A. Lincoln, by Maira Kalman

"The occasion is piled high with difficulty. As our case is new, so we must think anew and act anew. We must disenthrall ourselves, and then we shall save our country." --A. Lincoln, 1862

From the lovely Maira Kalman's lovely ode In Love with A. Lincoln

February 28th, 2009

Portrait

Love this portrait of Barack Obama by artist Juana Olga Barrios:

Sent to me by the coolest creative productivity guru I know, Danielle LaPorte at White Hot Truth

February 25th, 2009

Frank O'Hara, Channeled by Zadie Smith in the NYRB

Zadie Smith's talk on Obama and cultural multiplicity is all kinds of lovely. I especially like the way she worked in this poem by Frank O'Hara:

I am a Hittite in love with a horse

I don't know what blood's

in me I feel like an African prince I am a girl walking downstairs

in a red pleated dress with heels I am a champion taking a fall

I am a jockey with a sprained ass-hole I am the light mist

in which a face appears

and it is another face of blonde I am a baboon eating a banana

I am a dictator looking at his wife I am a doctor eating a child

and the child's mother smiling I am a Chinaman climbing a mountain

I am a child smelling his father's underwear I am an Indian

sleeping on a scalp

and my pony is stamping in

the birches,

and I've just caught sight of the

Niña, the Pinta and the Santa

Maria.

What land is this, so free? 

And here's O'Hara again, this time via Don Draper, the center of the universe that is Mad Men:



Lovely, lovely, lovely. And all of it, so true.
February 12th, 2009