Last nights nomination speech by Barack Obama was nothing short of phenomenal.
My parents were raised at the end of WWII in Germany. I grew up with stories of war, bombings, firestorms and a wrecked culture. My father left from this experience with a strong distrust of power structures. It seems to be something he inherited from his Grandfather, an artist and activist himself who famously raised an American flag out the window of his home as Nazis marched past (this act nearly killed him).
I too inherited this distrust. As I entered adulthood, agendas (by especially politicians) became clearer as manipulative gimmicks and promises for the sake of pandering to an illusion of an ideology. One only had to look around any of the communities in this country to see the mounting social ills (growing up in the 80’s) and heaps of corruption as these representatives of corporate and capitalist concerns held out their hands to the people.
Being aware and/or suspicious of agendas can be a hinderance. In jobs, at schools, even dealings as an artist, I have to remind myself not to jump to my initial conclusions.
For these reasons I’ve never been one to get behind a politician. My votes were usually the lesser of the two evils. Though in the last eight years I’ve been nothing sort of outraged. The harm that has been done on social, political, international, economic and most of all, the psyche of a generation has been nothing short of innumerable. My photographs changed course to attempt to try and strip away some of this illusion and may have even worked; no, shopping is not patriotic; yes, an economy based on having disposable income to buy cheap imported goods can not only not sustain itself but instead creates a wealth of larger social, political and environmental problems.
Mr. Obama has stripped away much of my cynicism. He could have easily pandered to expand his base in his nomination speech last night and quiet concerns from major corporate interests. As I listened I realized this man spoke his beliefs in such a way as to empower those listening. His words shaped our civilization as one on a small planet that exists in the larger scheme of things at a small moment in time. Our lives, and the actions of our lives therefore become paramount. Fair play, respect, community and responsibility to the future can actually be a consciousness shift away from the current ones of selfishness, greed, envy and yes… cynicism.
Like many generations before and ones ahead I want to see a future defined by good deeds. Hope indeed.

You can watch/read the full speech here.

My good friend Dawoud Bey is donating sales from a limited edition portrait of Barack here.


  1. Posted August 30, 2008 at 7:35 pm | Permalink

    Glad to read this Brian, good stuff. I was just thinking that last year, I’d only been involved in politics in opposition, as a demonstrator. Obama’s is the first campaign that’s made some degree of sense to me – it feels good to get behind and help push it all a little further down the road.

  2. Posted August 30, 2008 at 11:56 pm | Permalink

    I’m right there with you finding hope for our country in the words of Barack Obama. I have been amazed and enlightened by conversations I have had with friends and family members (conservative republicans, mostly) about my support for Obama. I find that there are generally two kinds of people – those who make decisions out of fear and those who make decisions out of hope. The fearful say things ranging from “he’ll raise my taxes” to (unbelievably) “he’s the antichrist.” I have yet have a conversation with a hopeful supporter of McCain.

    Based on these thoughts, I think McCain’s choice of running mate might not sit well with the fearful.

  3. Posted August 31, 2008 at 7:15 pm | Permalink

    I think I love his wife even more than I love him.

  4. Posted September 3, 2008 at 12:10 pm | Permalink

    As a resident of New York City, cynism and skeptisism are essential parts of the survival kit over here .It is hard to remove yourself from it and when it comes to politics even harder.I am so glad I watched live.It was a quite memorable and resounding speech. I was one of those in the fence after Hillary Clinton lost the chance. Now I am ready to vote for Obama.Brian, thanks for sharing with us such a personal view of it.

  5. Posted September 4, 2008 at 5:48 pm | Permalink

    great little essay, I couldn’t agree more!

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