Wednesday, November 19, 2008

50 Facts about President Elect Barack Obama

Barack Obama: The 50 Facts You Might Not Know

• He collects Spider-Man and Conan the Barbarian comics
• He was known as "O'Bomber" at high school for his skill at basketball
• His name means "one who is blessed" in Swahili
• His favourite meal is wife Michelle's shrimp linguini
• He won a Grammy in 2006 for the audio version of his memoir, Dreams From My Father
• He is left-handed – the sixth post-war president to be left-handed
• He has read every Harry Potter book
• He owns a set of red boxing gloves autographed by Muhammad Ali
• He worked in a Baskin-Robbins ice cream shop as a teenager and now can't stand ice cream
• His favourite snacks are chocolate-peanut protein bars
• He ate dog meat, snake meat, and roasted grasshopper whi le living in Indonesia
2 He can speak Spanish
• While on the campaign trail he refused to watch CNN and had sports channels on instead
• His favourite drink is black forest berry iced tea
• He promised Michelle he would quit smoking before running for president – he didn't
• He kept a pet ape called Tata while in Indonesia
• He can bench press an impressive 200lbs
• He was known as Barry until university when he asked to be addressed by his full name
• His favourite book is Moby-Dick by Herman Melville
• He visited Wokingham, Berks, in 1996 for the stag party of his half-sister's fiancĂ©, but left when a stripper arrived
• His desk in his Senate office once belonged to Robert Kennedy
• He and Michelle made $4.2 million (£2.7 million) last year, with much coming from sales of his books
• His favourite films are Casablanca and One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
• He carries a tiny Madonna and child statue and a bracelet belonging to a soldier in Iraq for good luck
• He applied to appear in a black pin-up calendar while at Harvard but was rejected by the all-female committee.
• His favourite music includes Miles Davis, Bob Dylan, Bach and The Fugees
• He took Michelle to see the Spike Lee film Do The Right Thing on their first date
• He enjoys playing Scrabble and poker
• He doesn't drink coffee and rarely drinks alcohol
• He would have liked to have been an architect if he were not a politician
• As a teenager he took drugs including marijuana and cocaine
• His daughters' ambitions are to go to Yale before becoming an actress (Malia, 10) and to sing and dance (Sasha, 7)
• He hates the youth trend for trousers which sag beneath the backside
• He repaid his student loan only four years ago after signing his book deal
• His house in Chicago has four fire places
• Daughter Malia's godmother is Jesse Jackson's daughter Santita
• He says his worst habit is constantly checking his BlackBerry
• He uses an Apple Mac laptop
• He drives a Ford Escape Hybrid, having ditched his gas-guzzling Chrysler 300
• He wears $1,500 (£952) Hart Schaffner Marx suits
• He owns four identical pairs of black size 11 shoes
• He has his hair cut once a week by his Chicago barber, Zariff, who charges $21 (£13)
• His favourite fictional television programmes are Mash and The Wire
• He was given the code name "Renegade" by his Secret Service handlers
• He was nicknamed "Bar" by his late grandmother
• He plans to install a basketball court in the White House grounds
• His favourite artist is Pablo Picasso
• His speciality as a cook is chilli
• He has said many of his friends in Indonesia were "street urchins"
• He keeps on his desk a carving of a wooden hand holding an egg, a Kenyan symbol of the fragility of life
• His late father was a senior economist for the Kenyan government

Monday, November 10, 2008

Miriam Makeba dies in Italy

Miriam Makeba 1932-2008

It's with great sadness that we receive the news of South African songstress, Miriam Makeba. She died following a concert in Italy last night. She was 76 years old.

Some of her most famous songs were Pata Pata, Jikele Maweni and Malaika.


Wednesday, November 05, 2008

America has Changed!

Wow! I am still almost speechless. When Barack Obama was pronounced the winner of Election 2008, I cried tears of joy. America is truly a changed place.

America has changed for the better. I credit movies and TV shows for helping lead to Obama's success. There was a time in Hollywood when blacks were protrayed as idiots, servants, slaves, and other menial things. Then they started being portrayed positively as doctors, teachers, lawyers, heroes, superheroes and even President of the United States. These images are subtly entrenched in our minds. Take this example, ask the older generations about Africa and the first thing that pops in their mind is Tarzan!

What I am really saying if that a new generation has grown up without the racism of the past. These kids have grown up in a diverse society where they see each other as equals. They don't mind living in a neighborhood with people who aren't the same color as they are. They don't mind being in the same classroom or attending sporting events together.

It's hard for a person who has not experienced racism to understand what the election of Barack Obama means. It's also painful for those who have experienced racism to hear white people saying, "get over it". Or people saying slavery happened 200 years ago. Well it may have ended but the repercussions are still felt in the treatment of blacks and other minorities in America today. So, yes it's tough to "get over it".

Most black people, including myself never imagined that a black man could or would be elected President of the United States of America in our lifetime. I have experienced racism, been called the n-word, been terrorized by the Klan. It was most profound when I lived in a small predominantly white town, in the midwest. I was privileged in the early 70's to get a decent education at a white school in which there were only 7 black kids out of 980. The teachers and the principal especially were openly racist. When I think back on that, I can only imagine how it must have been for Obama and his mom.

During the camapign pockets of racism emerged. People used the n-word liberally to describe Obama and declared that they could never live in a country led by an n-word. The internet was filled with racists hiding behind anonymity spewing hate. At one point people were saying that America was descending back to the Civil Rights era because of all the hate that was emerging. Old wounds were reopened and people asked would change really ever be possible in America. Would people attitudes towards race really change?

When I watched the results last night and saw tears in the eyes of Oprah, Rev. Jesse Jackson, Roland Martin and others, it was a momentus moment. History was made and a change has come. What will the people who have condemned America as a racist country now say. I say change is possible, change has happened. This is a new diverse America. I hope our ancestors are watching from the heavens to see that a change has taken place in America.

Now that Obama has been elected, I am sure that in the future we will see Presidents of Latino and Asian descent as well. This is the work of the melting pot. There may even come a day when one day Americans don't see themselves by the color of their skin but just as 'AMERICANS'.