Friday, December 5, 2008

Chauncey DeVega says: Come One, Come All--Practice The Lies That You Will Tell Your Children About Your Role In Barack Obama's Victory

They say journalism is the first draft of history. If so, then our memories are the final and perhaps most important draft.

For example, my mother and grandmother have multiple "we were marching with Dr. King" Civil Rights Movement stories. In one version, and I mean that politely because these "versions" are actually carelessly crafted lies, my mother was out in the forefront at Selma. In one of my grandmother's stories, she (meaning herself) often stared down the Klan and gave shelter to freedom riders on the family farm in North Carolina. As I got older and started to ask specific questions the truth became apparent: my mom and grandmother were telling tall tales to both amuse me, as well as to make themselves seem grand in the eyes of history.

One day I provoked my mother into telling me the whole, unadulterated truth. Inevitably, it was anti-climactic. It seems that my mom thought King and "those marchers" were crazy for letting white people beat on them and for not fighting back. She was more of a Black Panther and Malcolm X supporter, but she didn't want to go to jail, thus her non-participation in the local chapter. Ultimately, she stayed home and rooted from the sidelines. Typical, free-riding, behavior that would make Dennis Chong proud. My grandmother, trickster and griot that she was, never did give up the true story.

The age of Obama will surely generate its own set of fantastical stories. What lies will we tell? How will we exaggerate our roles in history? What creative fictions will we massage into being for our children and grandchildren? What "memories" will we come to actually believe ourselves?

As a public service, We are Respectable Negroes would like to invite you to practice your creative versions of the truth. As always we will offer a "no-prize" for the most fantastic--yet believable--fiction about your role in Barack Obama's victory.

I will lead with some of my own myths in progress. They range from the delicate and subtle, to the gross. Remember, the bigger the lie, the more people are likely to believe it.

1. Oh yes kids, I used to get my hair cut at the same barbershop as Barack Obama and we would routinely talk about politics. In fact, I was one of his unofficial confidantes and advisers...some of his best ideas were actually borrowed from me.

2. Damn right! his political career started in my friend's living room. I was there and it was an amazing moment.

3. Barack asked me to go to Washington with him as a senior adviser, but your mother wouldn't let me because she didn't want to move to D.C.

4. Back then, I was running a political website on what was called "the Internet" and we were instrumental in getting Barack Obama elected as president. We were lockstep with his campaign and Barack told me in private that he couldn't have won without my support.

Shall we begin? And remember, lying is a skill that is refined through practice.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Cute. :) But I understand their desire to spin a story about having been there. Had I been alive at that place and time, I certainly hope I'd have had the grace and courage to march too. Peace.