so i just finished this take back america conference and i try to rarely if ever speak at length about a conference, because i know a whole ton of work goes into them and that generally the folks pulling them together are motivated by a good spark. and y’all ain’t here. so…
this conference has me arching my brow. everybody who considers themselves anybody in the movers and shakers realm, or wants to be anybody at this moment and could afford it or sneak in, was here. there’s a deep contingent of young hip-hop organizers here – the somebodies everybody wants to be or have in their base – thanks to progressive majority and the tides foundation.
what i have seen is a lot of floral bouquet smelling introductions and then short pitches disguised as speeches. people pitch their programs, their work, their personalities. there are a lot of ideas with no tactics, and tactics with no big picture, and big picture tactical people with no organization. there is a lot of frustration and false hope being tossed around as people circle in around the most famous or wealthy person in any given room and make nice. folks say they are anti-war and everywhere i see the 2500 sign, for 2500 american soldiers killed. still, the first speaker of the second day of the conference was hillary clinton, a pro-war senator. folks say to give hillary a chance, but we can’t support a pro-war, pro-patriot act candidate. where we need a bold difference she offers us a timid half-step.
the most exciting people here are the young and innovative, its always good when they come together. i would say we, but me and my generation are already lovingly dusty compared to the real energy of the moment – 20-centered. i feel less young than ever. in a good way! its nice to see folks stepping up, some i’ve watched come up and some new. i wish there was a whole separate track for them to just plan plan plan with each other, rather than sitting and listening to panels of people who mostly theorize about the things these young people do.
as far as i can tell from the speeches, the way to take back america is to rail politely, unclear on what your line in the sand is, and end with ‘let’s take it back!’ there are glowing exceptions, clear strategies – the rockwood crew is in the house so i get to see folks i am doing leadership development with all in their element.
still, you start to feel that old conference frustration, might your time have been better spent doing anything but conferencing?
then! then, you have a day of meeting with people excited about what you do, who totally understand what you are doing and why and how.
and then barack obama speaks and gives you that tiny pretty precious bit of hope. i imagine its like finding crack in the couch before bobby kristina does. he is so poetic and clear and broad and direct and you get chills and puts a tear in your eye, that master of message. resist if you just hate hope, you know? then again, you can’t resist with mervyn at the table, instead you get a mervyn wink as the table collectively silences itself (after speaking over every other speaker at the conference) and lean in and inhale that hope scent. though his initials are unfortunate, b.o. says things that have started to seem impossible to you, placing our current struggle in the context of 105 year old woman’s life, a fan of his, who has seen so much change over three centuries in America. obama reminds you that through slavery and Jim Crow and world wars and nuclear bombs and depression and all that, people kept the faith in the idea. you can’t call a conference "take back the unrealized idea of america". it’s implied, i suppose.
now, we are not idealists, we are hopeful cynics, so the high doesn’t last too terribly long. a black man (or woman) with a better capacity to communicate the dream of america than any president? its nothin new, as my boy k-mos says.
i’m sleepy now, too many ays with too little sleep. i got two talks today, three actually, on health and sleep. circles under my eyes, just ain’t cute 🙂 night!