POEM: State of the Union – Barack Obama

The State of the Union

In come in
Barack Hussein Obama
Raising a question
Of will he deliver
His second state
Of the union
Different than the first
Shot from Chicagoland
Now addressing
From 1600 sumpin’
Pennsylvania Avenue
A White House
Supremely courting
Separate but unequal
Early childhood
Ivy league schooling
Whether constitutionally a lawyer
Or a product of a miscegenation
A black organizer
A white Harvard lawyer
Finessing Goodwill industries
Racking the Gap™
Lust but always found
His customary locution assured
In custom HeartMarx suits
In trademark blue
Navy blue
Projecting power
No longer caught
In the wrong hoodie
Or his name isn’t Hussein
And what race winning
Between time and money
Soul and
Vulnerability and power
Weather fair skin in the game
Or black ass on the line
Given the can
And the will
The eternal
Lying in the fold
The gap
Between Barack and Obama
In-creasing
And yes
De-spite the
We can
And we will

I heard on the news that Barack Hussein Obama will address income inequality and early childhood in his state of the union speech today.  Given Obama’s presidency thus far, that’s all the I needed to launch this poem.  This poem is a on the tensions between who we want to be, who we think we can be, how others view us, and what expectations others may have of us.  From many angles, the inescapable tension in the body politic and the body of Barack Obama is a race question.  For a long time now, I’ve found it puzzling that a biracial person in is quite universally identified as the minority race.  In , if you are half black and half white, you are black.  Is being black some type of pollutant that defines someone?  Is this some type of white fear that black is actually stronger than white, posing some inherent threat?  No doubt, culturally, for bi-racial people, it makes sense to identify with one’s minority , since this defines ones external reality quite pervasively; thus framing to a large degree one’s own .  Of course, this is really a cultural question because the genetic foundation for racial differences is as flimsy a foundation in as profoundly dangerous a reality on society.  Put simply, race is a social construct.  Race is a and prejudicial classification of humans feeding our own biases.  distracts us from the deeper realities of our oneness as a human is a tool to divide and conquer others.  can no more be won than can be won — it only creates more lost human potential.  I empathize with Obama who must daily face the many powerful contradictions or tensions in his life and .  However, I see class trumping racial .  I find it a much more coherent view that Obama is a Harvard lawyer than a black organizer.  His high social and class seems a much better explanation for his actions than his racial and ethnic heritage.

Fortunately, my aim in human relations is infinitely higher than merely explaining, or even predicting, human behavior.  We can, and likely will, argue about the extent of human , for any particular individual or “class” of humans.  Still, we are always at least somewhat free.  And it is in this space, whether narrow or wide, that we define our .  This is true for the of the United States of , the presumed leader of the “free” world.  This is true for me and you.

If you follow at all, you cannot escape that even the most powerful person in the world, presumed to be the of the good ole USA, is plagues by limits on his , or perhaps more appropriately, his ambitions.  Personally, I revel that lowly me can do things that the could not fathom; such as living without an alarm clock, or truly taking a week off.  is said to be the of the possible.  I’d like to think so.  However, it seems that is captured much more accurately as being the of the probable.  The of the possible is about acting out of an idealism ever-appreciating the stark reality that we can choose to act freely within reality or looming.  Shrewdness is not well served by fixating on mere probabilities at the expense of our , that defines us as human.

Of course, in this poem, I hope to raise the “race” question to a higher level, not bound by mere particularities, especially racial .  Ah, yes, the quest of a to tease out eternal themes and universal truths from our particular lives.  In this poem, this is framed as various races: between time and money, soul and , and vulnerability and power.

Still, I am not, nor wish to be, immune from particularities.  I relish in the deliciously punny and serendipitous particularity that Obama wears custom Hartmarx suits.  I have taken the liberty of spelling this brand (probably trademarked!) with my own trademark style: HeartMarx.  The tensions and run deep as it can imply a (hidden) of Marx for Obama, or the pinnacle of a personal capitalistic brand perhaps too well-suited to speak authentically of income inequality.

May your state of union with reality be harmonious and joyful.

Leave a Reply