Keeping Up with the Jonzee still at the right spot.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Come Tuesday

I have listened time and time again to the stories from my grandparents (who are still alive and good health) being my age during the time of Jim Crow. My grandparents were among the "talented tenth" who went on to get not only a college education but a Masters. Their life was fascinating and some of the things they were able to accomplish, under what many would view as extreme duress, is impressive.

My grandmother was riveter like Rosie in WWII. She left the factory and moved to Atlanta--by herself--while my grandfather was at War to pursue her Master of Social Work. She is demure, my grandmother, and if you are familiar with the history of the black middle class--she may falsely appear more socialite than independent woman, and more wife and mother from the times of the "best generation", then capable equal partner. But perserverance is her middle name.

My grandfather was a talented print man, who because of his color, had limited opportunity to make a career in printing and instead taught it as a vocation in the public school system. Like many other black folks, teaching was one of the few ways to have a white collar job and secure a future staunchly in the middle class, running the printing press at the Call and Post in the evenings. He has a sharp-tongued wit at times. And from some of his stories, it seems his relative fair skin is what kept him from ending up in a tree somewhere.

It is from my grandparents purview of American history, that I see the world. It is from their vivid portrayl of the decline of the American dream--first begun in the demise of our urban centers at the precipise of "white flight" and "desegregation", and further solidified by deindustrialization, that I dedicate my personal and professional time to revitalizing communities. And it is from this purview, that the last 10 years have made me rethink this personal calling on many an occassion.

When a former community organizer first decided to run for US president, I thought him delusional. When he exceeded expectations in Iowa, I began to listen. And as I listened, he talked about the importance of our urban centers and creating a poilcy arm that would focus on urban policy. He seemed to understand that the health and wealth of this nation hinged in large part on addressing many of our failures in domestic issues--health care, encouraging small business, and revitalizing a viable manufacturing base that might actually allow blue collar folks who's mothers and fathers once were "company men" in factories like Westinghouse and GM an opportunity to use their skilled labor to reach the American dream. It is then that I began to work for him with "cautious optimism".

Then he won the primary.

Then he won the presidency.

And now, come Tuesday, the sun might cautiously shine again.