Tuesday, June 21, 2011

From the vault: Michelle Obama--not on the spirit team

This post originally appeared on February 20, 2008

"Hope is making a comeback and, let me tell you, for the first time in my adult life, I am proud of my country. Not just because Barack is doing well, but I think people are hungry for change."
--Michelle Obama at a rally for her husband, presidential candidate, Barack Obama

Mainstream liberals and conservatives are in a tizzy about what Michelle Obama said. Now, I find the oaths to religion and hyper-patriotism that we require from political leaders (and their spouses) to be unproductive. As George Bernard Shaw said, "Patriotism is your conviction that this country is superior to all other countries because you were born in it." But that aside, is it wrong to not be proud of one's country?

Proud: adj highly pleased, exultant
--Merriam-Webster Dictionary

Despite her many achievements, Michelle Obama is still a black woman in America. And here is what Americans too often forget: marginalized groups, including black people, have a different relationship with this country than "mainstream" men and women. Our histories are different. We are prone to seeing and experiencing the worst of what the country has to offer. We have scars from times when our country and its people have not loved us. We care about America and many of us would never live anywhere else, but pride is sometimes elusive.

If America was high school, mainstream folks would be the spirit team, proudly wearing varsity jackets and class rings, painting their faces and screaming on the side lines at the big football game. The jocks and cheerleaders and popular kids--they get the best out of the high school experience. It is made for them. And they are proud. We marginalized people, we're not usually on the spirit team. We're more like the barely-tolerated goths and chess nerds. High school is not meant for us. We don't fit; we're outcasts. We cheer when our team wins, but our love is not as fervent, because it is tempered with reality. We know the side of high school that no one wants to talk about--the hypocrisy, the unfairness, the favoritism for some, the ostracizing of those who don't fit in.

Interview with Iron Druid Chronicles author Kevin Hearne

As many readers know, I'm a fan of the urban fantasy genre. I caught the bug after getting hooked on True Blood (which returns Sunday!). Every Monday at 6 p.m. Eastern, I co-host an online show about urban fantasy, called Fangs for the Fantasy, with Renee, Paul and Dan. We recap and analyze True Blood and other shows, as well as book series and films. And we also look at the genre through a "social justice" lens, examining how common "isms" play out even here.

Over the past few weeks, my co-hosts and I have been over the moon about Kevin Hearne's Iron Druid Chronicles, including Hounded and Hexed. Hearne has crafted an intriguing and rich fantasy world--one broad enough to include the mythology of various cultures--and writes with skill and tremendous wit. I can honestly say--after gorging on urban fantasy for two years--that Hearne's are the best books I've ever read.

Last night, I was thrilled to join my co-hosts in interviewing Kevin Hearne. It seems he's not only a good writer, but a good guy as well. Have a listen below and, if you too have the urban fantasy jones, tune in every Monday for more Fangs for the Fantasy.


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