Monday, February 23, 2009

A Blue Sun in a Yellow Sky

Notes and quotes from Obama's Dreams from My Father.

Dreams from My Father
Barack Obama
Three Rivers Press
442 pages

5 - Obama - born 1961, father left Hawaii in 1963 when Obama was two
12 - miscegenation - 1960 - still a felony in over half of the states.
15 - "... where fear and lack of imagination choke your dreams"
38 - "But her knowledge of floods and exorcisms and cockfights left much to be desired." {likewise for my mom}
79 - "...when the imperatives of harvest or work in the factory aren't supposed to dictate identity, so that how to live is bought off a rack or found in magazines..."
86 - "His repeated acts of self-creation spoke to me, the blunt poetry of his words, his unadorned insistence on respect, promised a new and uncompromising order, martial in it's discipline, forged through sheer force of will." {on Malcolm X. Lincoln also undertook repeated acts of self-creation}
94 - "Everybody was welcome into the club of disaffection."
110 - "Look into yourself before you pass judgement. Don't make someone else clean up your own mess. It's not about you."
122 - " to choose a motif around which to organize my life, free to patch together a collage of styles, friends, watering holes, political affiliations." {the easier path not taken}
133 - "Change will come from a mobilized grass roots."
141 - "With the unions in the shape they're in, the churches are the only game in town." {quoting something Marty Kaufman said}
155 - "That's why people become involved in organizing - because they think they'll get something out of it. Once I found an issue enough people cared about, I could take them into action. With enough actions, I could start to build power."
178 - 'Couldn't get away with nothing, 'cause your momma had eyes and ears up and down the whole block.' {an anonymous Chicagoan. Also quoted here.}
182 - 'I guess we worked so long for nothing, we feel like we shouldn't have to break our backs just to survive.' {quoting Mr. Foster}
190 - "...people carried within them some central explanation of themselves. Stories full of terror and wonder, studded with events that still haunted or inspired them. Sacred stories." {where does the group narrative stop and where does personal narrative begin?}
194 - "What I doubted was that all the talk about self-esteem could serve as the centerpiece of an effective black politics."
195 - "That hate hadn't gone away; it formed a counternarrative burried deep within each person.."
200 - "...nationalism dissipated into an attitude rather than any concrete program, a collection of grievances and not an organized force..."
203 - "As it was, many had already given up the hope that politics could actually improve their lives, much less make demands on them..."
220 - " if I had woken up to find a blue sun in a yellow sky..."
242 - "I changed as a result of that bus trip, in a fundamental way. It was the sort of change that's important not because it alters your concrete circumstances in some way (wealth, security, fame) but because it hints at what might be possible and therefore spurs you on..."
280 - 'a buppie church' {quoting an older pastor of another church}
284 - 'A Disavowal of the Pursuit of Middleclassness' {title of a Trinity pamphlet}
327 - ambit - boundary or scope
337 - "If you have something, then everyone will want a piece of it." {quoting an aunt}
346 - "These wazungu care more about one dead elephant than they do for a hundred black children." {quoting his half sister on wazungu}
353 - "But you see, a rich country like America can perhaps afford to be stupid." {quoting Francis}
355 - "But the British have so much more, but seem to enjoy things less." {quoting an English doctor living in Malawi}
365 - " don't know what it's like to spend the night in a Nairobi jail." {says a brother in Kenya and as reported by the BBC.}
348 - "the country's forty black tribes" and "Most Kenyans still worked with older maps of identity, more ancient loyalties."
367 - 600 mile train trip from from Mombasa to the shores of Lake Victoria.
369 - home squared
370 - panga - machete. Grandfather, one panga - Alego and the other panga - Kogelo
377 / 378 - night runners
373 - "I think perhaps education doesn't do us much good unless it is mixed with sweat." {quoting Sayid}
382 - "When two locusts fight, it is always the crow who feasts."
406 - "What I have not seen doesn't make my heart heavy."