Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Obamafication of the Negro

The Obamafication of the Negro*
by Maisha G. Woodson

I thought this would be a cool and appropriate title for an essay chronicling the emergence and catapulting of Obama into/beyond his super-iconic-BARACKstar status. I feel like I should have something extremely clever and/or poignant to say here, but let's see what happens by the end of the essay...!

[So the essay would start off like this:] Examples of the "Obamafication" of said Negro- and large parts of other races, ethnicities and the rest of the world- is evident in the immediate Barack/Michelle Obama naming phenomenon where already hundreds of babies around the globe, from Kenya to the States, are being named after our President and First Lady-elect (and if babies aren't being named after Barack, parents may feel even more comfortable with giving their children ethnically and culturally relevant, meaningful names without the backlash of "name discrimination" once the child becomes an adult); also, the name "OBAMA" has now become a greeting, chant, and all around crowd-hyping catch-phrase; as the term "First Lady" has become a greeting already being directed at me a few times in the past week, e.g. "Good Morning, First Lady!" and so on; it seems that Sunday, November 9, 2008 was officially observed as "Barack Obama Day" in many churches and houses of the Lord here in NYC, and I'm sure around the country where parishioners, mainly African American, arrived decked in Obama gear from head to toe, singing the praises of Barack ("Obaaaaa-ma! Blessed be Ba-rack....!" or "I voted for O-baaaaaa-mah! Now he's pres-i-deeeent!") and giving thanks to God for this "miracle" that many -young and old- believed they'd never live to see (I myself attended a Barack "Ba-runch" Sunday afternoon where much if not all conversation was directed towards the President-elect's historic election and victory, even with obvious racism and cultural intolerance still running rampant in this country. All kinds of Barack-inspired greetings filled the place as people entered the brunch like, "Happy Obama Reign!"); since Barack's election, I receive, forward or compose no less than 5 Barack Obama-related emails in a 24-hr period (and if it's not emails, I'm reading all sorts of articles about him and his family or pending administration online- and I love reading about Rahm Emanuel as much as I love reading about Barack!); There are probably more songs written about or featuring Barack Obama than any other president in history, not to mention artwork and Obama paraphrenalia being massed produced for side hustles across town; also, in regards to the "Obamafication of the Negro" (and the entire world), it seems that Michelle and her girls have become fashion icons with so much influence that the outfits that they chose to wear for the election day celebration (and other public engagements like the J. Crew outfit on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno") have sold out in record numbers in other parts of the world (And, YES, I do mean that infamous, questionable black-n-red dress that every black person I know has had a problem with. For the record, I decided on election night that even though I may not have chosen THAT particular number to debut in as First Lady-elect, I was not going to hate on the black-n-red dress. I respect the black-n-red dress, I even like it... in a certain type of lighting, mainly low. But still.. I'm not hating); and, lastly, the all-encompassing euphoric optimism (which is steadily countering the jaded cynical belief of nothing having changed since Barack's election) that is lingering around the hood yet is far-reaching all the way across oceans into other continents (I got an email today from an Australian client of mine expressing her happiness for our new president and her HOPEs that his term(s) in office will leave the world better off!) is clear indication that the "Obamafication of the Negro" (worldwide) is here to stay! Not to mention how folk are REALLY aspiring for that Barack/Michelle/OUR family is what's most important to US kind of love (My parents got it... and maybe your family is similar- or maybe not, but I think it's within reach for those of us who really want that type of relationship and family unit)!! I'm sure there are plenty of more examples of this "Obamafication" that I speak of, but I, for one, welcome it, embrace it, and will do my part to see that its positive effect continues past this moment and inspires life-changing, momumental, personal CHANGE in all of us-- one way or another! OBAMA!!!

*Of course this is a take on the classic best-seller "The Mis-Education of the Negro" by Carter G. Woodson, originally published in 1933, theorizing how the indoctrination and conditioning of Negros taught us to seek out inferior positioning in the greater society of which we are a part, preventing us from thinking and doing for ourselves. I, hereby, theorize that the "Obamafication of the Negro" will condition this generation of Negroes, et al. (and generations to come) to seek out the highest possible positioning in society and to proactively bring about unprecedented leadership of the changing world.


Anonymous said...

Right on, Mai. You have a way with words that are truly appreciated…Obamafication, Ba-runch. I love it. Change has never been represented so well. Free at last, free at last, thank GOD almighty we are free at last!!! Now this country can be conducted with a level of global respect never seen before. Amen! Bruh, Bruce

Kokugaijin said...

Nice. Hopefully the Obamafication of the Negro entails the de-Negrification of the Negro as well. Feel me?

Dominique Smith said...

Hey Mai -

I find this article fascinating because a sister friend of mine and I were having the conversation of "what does an Obama presidency mean to the African-American paradigm as a whole? Does this present a shift in the way we view ourselves as a people? Are brothers going to pull up their pants? Are sisters going to let their hair go natural a la James Brown I'm-Black-And-I'm-Proud?" (There's a hilarious post on youtube about how "natural' Michelle is and the dude is adamant about 'NO WEAVES IN THE WHITE HOUSE!" lol...) Does an Obama presidency mean we will see less misogny and ignorance in hip-hop (a la tip-drill-p*ssy-poppin-get-rich-or-die-trying-to-burn-my-baby-mama-up"lol...') and more consiousness in our community?

I for one, certainly hope so.

Another great point you made was about names. I named my daughter Pride, and I cannot begin to tell you how much backlash I got for naming her that, both biblically and socially. My response always was (and is), "if someone is going to judge my babies resume based upon her name and not her qualifications, than I don't want her to work for such prejudice idiots. She will just have to be an agent of change." It is so redeeming to see that we have progressed to a point in our society that we can look beyond xenophobia to accept people with different names, religions, and viewpoints. Which brings me to my next point-

This by no means mean we are "post-racial."

I don't even know where that term came from! The same lady I had the conversation with told me that her white colleague said to her, "well now you guys don't need affirmative action!" HOLD THE *&^% UP!! I for one work in a social justice, political company and have witnessed first hand the ugly racism that is deeply rooted in the "real America" that Sarah Palin so lovingly talked about. It's like, the civil war ended and some states just really never got over it! If you look at past elections, there is a striking simularity between red/blue states and free/slave states. I hope Obama puts an end to the African-American"slave mentality," but who is going to put an end to the "master mentality?" What I REALLY would love to see is Obama invite Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Bill O'Reilly, Michael Savage AND Elizabeth Hasslebeck to the Oval Office and be like, "now say it to my face!" lol.....

From Miseducation to Obamafication - one can only hope that the sleeping giant has finally awaken, and Obama proved to us that hope is something we can actually believe in.........

Peace and Love,


Mai~Goodness said...

Dag Domo!!! Gurl, everything I didn't say, you got it right on in!!!!! Amen and ashe!

Dominique Smith said...


If only Tupac where alive to see this! lol