To avoid being mistaken for a sellout, I chose my friends carefully. The more politically active black students. The foreign students. The Chicanos. The Marxist professors and structural feminists and punk-rock performance poets. We smoked cigarettes and wore leather jackets. At night, in the dorms, we discussed neocolonialism, Franz Fanon, Eurocentrism, and patriarchy. When we ground out our cigarettes in the hallway carpet or set our setereos so loud that the walls began to shake, we were resisting bourgeois society's stifling constraints. We weren't indifferent or careless or insecure. We were alienated.
But this strategy alone couldn't provide the distance I wanted, from Joyce [a former girlfriend] or my past. After all, there were thousands of so-called campus radicals, most of them white and tenured and happily tolerated. No, it remained necessary to prove which side you were on, to show your loyalty to the black masses, to strike out and name names.
Like many blackfolks in my generation who inherited no real understanding of how politics actually works, Obama spent a lot of time with academics and posers. This contributes to my theory of how his exposure to America, and particular the need any putative leader has to deal with *all* of the people tracks his positions towards the right. Obama seems much less baked to me, as time goes on, especially in light of his vacuous voting record. It definitely heralds change if he wins. The problem is that one cannot be truly sure what HE clings to. He has triangulated in a campaign which is exactly the same thing as growing wiser with a greater appreciation for the complexities, and in almost every case his flops have been towards McCain's moderate conservative positions.