Obama Does Not Floss

“And I’m just a moth, addicted to the floss,” ~ Jay Z, “Allure,” - The Black Album

A good friend of mine recently called wanting ideas on ways to secure a spot on a new reality TV show. Of course, there would be hundreds of people applying, and he wanted to make sure the casting team noticed him. After a quick brainstorming session (during much of which, I was drawing a blank), he revealed some of the plans he had already conjured that would cause a ruckus and definitely get him the attention he wanted. Possibly arrested too.

For a split second, when he was describing the big shebang-a-bang, I realized that the person he illustrated isn’t the person I know him to be. So, I warned him about getting caught up in the allure that Jay-Z talked about on “The Black Album” – that psychosis plaguing so many folks. And not just in the hip hop community. It’s got a lot of black leaders too. I told him I have lost and am currently losing a few friends to it, and if he wasn’t careful, he’d also get swallowed up in his own illusion.

I asked if he remembered the movie “Deep Cover.” That was such a classic movie, not only because it introduced Dr. Dre’s protégée, Snoop (Doggy Dogg), but it also showed everybody what could happen to us if we do the wrong things for the right reasons. Laurence Fishburne’s character was an undercover cop trying to nab Jeff Goldblum’s character, and the only way it could be done was to send him in to infiltrate Goldblum’s drug smuggling operation. He eventually became the #2 man, his friend and confidant. But by then, he was caught up in the allure, using the product he was selling and couldn’t tell where the facade ended and he began. Classic tale.

After we got off the phone, I wondered what would happen to him if he just showed up as himself. No glitz. No glam. Just him and his hunger to get on the show. Him just plain bringing it! Isn’t that what Barack Obama did?

I was reading a few articles that analyzed exactly what Obama did right to guarantee becoming the Democratic presidential nominee, as well as the missteps Hillary Clinton made. One said that in the beginning he told Betsy Myers, who became his chief operating officer, before he announced running for president back in January 2007 that, “we could try some things in a different way and build an organization that reflected my personality and what I thought the country was looking for.”

The article also said that he laid down three guiding principles: Run a respectable campaign; build it from the bottom up; and finally, no drama. Respect? No drama? In a political campaign for the presidential nomination? This seemed pretty naïve, leaving him vulnerable to being destroyed by the campaign that was the Clinton Establishment. But he proved skeptics wrong.

Didn’t he just show up, y’all? He came with the ‘audacity of hope’ that he, not some caricature of himself, was good enough. And even through that ‘rock star’ phase, he could have been hittin’ up all the parties, appearing in a gang of music videos and leaving Michelle at home so he could partake in a little groupie love. But he stayed on course. Thank God.

I wondered how many life-transforming moments I have missed out on in my life because I didn’t think I was good enough. How many opportunities have I passed up because I felt I didn’t have the right credentials, the right background or the right connections? Better yet, how am I in my life carrying on a facade for fear that if I show up as my true self, I would be rejected?

I believe when I act out of fear or insecurity, the person present in that moment is my facade because it’s causing me to be someone I, at my core, truly isn’t. After all, when we decide not to face the fear, doesn’t it hide parts of who we are? I can look back and see that I am not fully present in certain situations because of fear. And I know that, because of the fear, certain people aren’t experiencing all of Yaminah. Parts of me are still hiding in the shadows. I’m a work in progress.

What’s fascinating about Obama is that – unlike Clinton, whose campaign was based on her and her husband’s star power (an allure, at one point, some black folks were fixated on) – his campaign is primarily based on who he says he is, and that’s an agent of change for all people. Isn’t that God Almighty? I believe we all (us Obama supporters) are gravitating towards that God energy that he is allowing to shine through him. And deep within us we recognize it in ourselves, making our vision for our lives more clear. I don’t think we could have seen the possibilities in ourselves to create the life and world we want if Obama went ‘deep cover’ on us.

I’m dreaming of one day living in a world where we can just show up, without explanation, as the conduit of God and it is more than enough to live out our passions for the greater good of us all.

Wait. Obama just proved that we live in this kind of world right now. Praise God!

Envisioning you with much love, light and fulfillment. See you next week.

Yaminah Ahmad is editor-in-chief of The Atlanta Voice and contributing editor to Collective Voices, a newspaper published by the non-profit, SisterSong: Women of Color Reproductive Health Collective. More information on the group can be found at www.sistersong.net. Ahmad can be reached at missyaminah@gmail.com.

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