Coincidentally this morning, two blogs that I regularly read had comments about Barak Obama. The first was on my friend Gayle Brandies' blog. I met Gayle in my MFA graduate program at Antioch University. She was our graduation speaker, chosen for the spot for a gazillion reason, including but not limited to her congeniality, compassion, talent, integrity, and intelligence. She is currently on the leadership team for Code Pink and is a model for political activism that inspires me because she is the embodiment of grace and right speech. Here is the segment about an Obama speaking engagement that was posted on her blog Fruit Flesh:
There was one question in particular of interest to us book lovers, and that came from a woman who asked what Obama would say to young writers. He was surprised by the question, which he admitted was one he hadn't heard before, but didn't hesitate to answer. He referenced his two books, and specifically mentioned how he wrote them himself, along with many of his speeches. With a light inflection, he said, "In terms of getting a job, knowing how to write is a good thing." He talked about how he kept a journal, and how it was important for teaching him not only how to write, but also how to think. But my favorite part was when he said, "Over the course of four years I made time to read all of the Harry Potter books out loud to my daughters. If I can do that and run for president, then you can find time to read to your kids. That's some of the most special time you have with your children."
There is so much in this statement that speaks to me. Of course as a teacher, parent, and grandparent, I'm pleased about how he discusses reading and writing: e.g. the importance of journaling and the way writing helps one to think and the value of reading aloud and especially of making time for reading in the home. Cindy and I listened to the Harry Potter books on tape while driving in the car and hearing them read aloud opened that imaginative corner of our minds that often gets neglected in adulthood. As a newly launched ghost writer, I'm acutely aware of how few memoirs are actually penned by the hands of famous folks. While I appreciate the necessity for ghostwriters and absolutely love such assignments, I'm delighted to know that Obama chose to author his own books, both of which I have read and thoroughly enjoyed. How refreshing to have a potential president who can read, write, and think.
One of my writing teachers, Alison Luterman who lives and writes in Oakland, California, wrote this segment on her blog, See How We Almost Fly:
I met my new Little Sister today. She is not-quite seven, gorgeous little girl, who tied two jump ropes together for me to jump because, she said, "You're pretty tall."
When I was helping her ride her bike in their tiny backyard, she said, "I thought you was gonna be black."
"Did you want me to be black?" I asked. "Would that make you more comfortable?"
"Yeah," she said. It was one of the more honest conversations about race that I've had.
Later, as we were playing Monopoly, she said, "All of the Presidents were white."
"Until this year," I said. "But maybe this year we might get a black President."
"I know," she said.
"Do you know what his name is?"
"Obama. My granny is going to vote for him."
I wonder if Barack Obama could have any way of knowing that his choice to run is impacting the world view of a first grader in Oakland with chipped purple nail polish and a pink bike with no training wheels.
Leon's and Aliou's grandmother also intends to vote for Barak Obama, who has first-hand knowledge about Africans who come to America and who clearly loves books as much as they do.