Pineapple Days

It’s a little bit funny, this feeling inside.

The sensation akin to the abrasive pleasure of eating pineapple, the increased sensitivity, irritation, even pain, alongside so much pleasure.

A friend tells me that black men were featured on North American TV discussing policy. And this wasn’t Tavis Smiley! I had planned to teach Angelina Weld Grimké’s Rachel, a lynching play about foreclosed possibilities. Now, I am re-thinking this choice. (I have yet to process how my pedagogy will have to change, and it will change.)

Jesse Jackson was crying on TV. I was silent, crying as well. (Were I more scholarly right now, I might propose that we consider the affect of diaspora, something Julius Nyerere touched on in 1963.) I am told or it is being said that we watched history take place. But this concept is too big for me to understand, too vast, and its meanings have yet to unfold.

I will confess that as impressive as Obama’s win is, I felt a little more pride (just a smidgen) at the thought that a black woman from Chicago will become first lady.

In the midst of all this, and it is a lot, news that anti-gay measures on ballots have succeeded—against gay marriage in Florida and Arizona, against gay adoption in Arkansas.

Someone somewhere, actually, many people in some places still do not believe that gay people are fully human.

It needs to be put this plainly: this is not a debate over heterosexuality and homosexuality. The debate over equality is always over whether the other person is as fully human.

I phrase it this way after attending a meeting on the Waki Report sponsored by the Africa Policy Institute, and moderated by my friend, Dr. Mshai Mwangola. During the meeting, speakers kept raising the issue of “moral boundaries”: What must I think of another that killing raises no ethical or moral concerns? How do I envision the human-ness of “my people” against the non-human-ness of “others”?

This topic is difficult to broach—and necessary. Increasingly, I find framing US issues through Kenya offers rich possibilities.

If one accepts the argument offered by anti-gay marriage proponents, then marriage is one of the most special, most sacred, most enduring, most respected institutions that confirms one’s humanity, one’s belonging to a community and a nation, one’s place in history.

Anti-gay marriage proposals limit precisely these rights and privileges. They affirm that gay individuals lack humanity, do not belong in communities and the nation, and have no place in history.

We said the same thing in Kenya along ethnic lines. And we are still living with what that permitted us to do to each other.
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On this pineapple day, I take great comfort that during his acceptance speech, Obama claimed gay people as part of the US.

One thought on “Pineapple Days

  1. I find it interesting what you say about a black woman being first lady giving you more pride. I’ve long identified myself as a feminist, but the minute Barrack began running against Hillary, I was for him all the way. I was happy when he got the nomination. When he won, I didn’t for a moment think about Michelle, though of course (on second thoughts), I’m happy for her as well. I’d be really fascinated to know why it makes you proud that a black woman from Chicago is first lady.

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