How we communicate our thoughts and our opinions to each other daily maters.
Lately, as I make my rounds here and there throughout our small city I have become annoyed with a new phrase in contemporary American conversation. A phrase previously unknown in our nation’s dialogue. Now it seems when a person, a white person, wishes to express displeasure, anger, sympathy, envy or anything else regarding a person of color, that person is referred to as “Obama’s cousin.”
Conversations start with “did you see the Lakers signed Obama’s cousin, ready for this?, first year – seven million dollars!” Or overheard, “I went to pay for my gas and buy my lottery ticket, and there was Obama’s cousin in front of me counting out quarters and dimes to see if he had enough for the extra giant size Grape Slurppie.” Even “I work with this guy, totally Obama’s cousin, cool guy. You’d really like him. He’s been collecting cars for years! You wouldn’t believe some of the cars he has”
Racism is nothing new, neither is political humor, but it is the phrase. The phrase is new. People seem to disregard the fact that Mr. Obama is of mixed racial heritage. By extension of the logic that make people of color Mr. Obama’s relatives, all white people are his potential relatives as well. I am just as likely to be related to the President as any of his new “cousins.” That would be just fine with me. I would like to be Barack cousin.
I wouldn’t care about VIP tours of the white house, limo rides, a photo-op with their new dog, or any of that. What I would like is to see Barack’s girls with my grandkids, to listen to their voices blend as they played. I would smile to myself to hear Michelle Obama and my wife having a good laugh together at their husband’s expense. It is easy to picture my new cousins fitting in at family picnics. We all talk constantly in our family. Conversation only slows when we have our mouths full. Even then we’re still not quiet, just talking less.
Pushing back from the big picnic table we’ve always had out back I would say to The President, “Barack, I’m going back for another hot-dog and some of that potato salad. While I’m up, can I get you anything?” Barack would smile at me and with a small shake of his head (wipe a smidgen of mustard from the corner of his mouth and say, “No thanks, I’m saving room for some of that strawberry shortcake your wife made.” Smart to plan ahead. I like that in a person. I like that in a leader as well. The Obamas would fit into my family just fine. They might just turn out to be my favorite cousins of all.