Thursday, August 12, 2010

Charisma & Presidential Characteristics Unseen

This review is from: Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance (Paperback)

I searched Barack Obama's, "Dreams from My Father," in hopes of finding signs forecasting his ascension to the U.S. Presidency as well as evidence pointing to his inclusion into the School of Charismatic Leadership. Interesting, I saw all evidence wanting. There were no signs as exemplified in David Maraniss', "First in His Class," a biography on President Bill Clinton's evolution to power.

At best, it is a reclamation of a man who idealized an element of black sub-culture, based on skin color, only to find his own truth in a world fraught with contradictions. The climax of the book came while in Africa, as Obama and his sister Auma are speaking with an old history teacher of Auma's. Dr. Rukia Odero says," ...You know, young black Americans tend to romanticize Africa so. When your father and I were young, it was the opposite -we expected to find all the answers in America. Harlem. Chicago. Langston Hughes and James Baldwin. That's where we drew our inspiration. And the Kennedys---they were very popular" (p. 433). Throughout "Dreams from My Father," Obama is expressing the disconnection of his personal experiences with those who share the same skin color. As usual the case when one feels he's not "Black enough (complexion and psychologically)," he over compensates believing that the sub-culturally described definition of being black is the objective definition. Dr. Odero's insights closes the gap of the proverbially, "Grass being greener on the other side." By closing the psychological gap, Obama is allowed to embrace the truism that his global experiences have allowed: Born In Hawaii to a white Kansan mother and black Kenyan father, reared in Indonesia by an Asian step-father, educated in the highest pedigreed universities in the world, and finally, being able to point directly to a country (Kenya) that engenders his future aspirations being manifested in America.

"Dreams from My Father" is an immigrant story in the vein of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Rupert Murdoch with sociological underpinning of the Black Experience as a construct. The beauty of Obama's writing is the social experiment he engages himself in to find a panacea for the psychological malaise (part self-induced, part uncontrolled social forces) he experienced growing up. Obama is reminiscent of a scientist who uses himself as a guinea pig to find a special elixir. As such, he has produced a psychological blue print, steeped in hybridized cultural influences of power for the ages. A call to action would be, "Find an authentic socio/psychological philosophy to base your understanding of the world and consolidate power from that perspective."

A must read by a man who would become the most powerful person in the world and the process that got him there.

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