Originally uploaded by Andreas Reinhold
It’s a new day and I am hoping that what I experienced last night was not an isolated burst of Oakland pride. What I’m reading on different blogs and news reports; the images from Harlem, Kenya, Atlanta, and mighty Chicago; and the festivities I participated in when the news networks put up the words “Barack Hussein Obama: President-Elect;” all this says that the collective unconscious of America has been affected in the most beautiful way possible.
Is it possible that the ideals of the Civil Rights Movement reached their fruition? That the conviction and grass-roots organizational power of the Black Panther and Young Lords Parties has defeated the Grand Ole Political Machine? Maybe. Maybe this goes farther back to the New Deal, to Suffrage, to the Civil War, maybe this is the Constitution (the one Obama relates to) gaining a new foothold in the minds of the Americans who recite it out of practice but don’t live it in practice.
If that is the case, then much more has to be done. The election of this new President is a herald of hope and an end to the malaise of the last eight years but that hope can’t be held in front of our faces to block out the blight around us, that hope has to be left to the side of the road as a marker for those who don’t know hope. For those who life and trudge through this American life, that every second is dedicated to survival, and where hope drains precious scant resources and doesn’t make anything plausible happen.
The issues that have driven me as a political poet still exist in this new America. The constant uprooting of hard-working families from the slums of the inner-city, to the slums of the suburbs, to the slums of pre-fab communities, and then back to the inner-city is still happening around us through the mortgage crisis which has been bank rolled with their savings and their dreams for a real home. The education system is still a mess that favors the economically and culturally Anglo-centric advantaged. The prison system is still this country’s ghost economy: taking advantage of young men in need of guidance and education and giving them the rule of the overseer and the law of immediate survival as their bread and water, converting them into cogs for a machine that once produced roads and license plates and is now is doing that and making your cheaper rubber products and cultivating organic food for mass sale. The other great ghost economy of the undocumented laborers in our country remains an open issue, which I interpret as a still open wound.
The end of the wars abroad doesn’t mean the wars here at home will end. But I get the feeling that more many poets it will be the end of their political outcry. But if all they’ve ever had is a war that they’ve never lived then they should not fear the death of their political poetry because, in the futile end, they never ever really lived that.