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On the night of November 3, 1992.

There was great rejoicing all over the land. George Bush was out. And inside my little house, the mood fluctuated between stunned reverence and invincible joy.

Moving easily among the nonfat, non-cholesterol chocolate-chip cookies, or cakes, and three flavors of frozen yogurt, my friends finished off their champagne and started up (decaffeinated) coffee and I could not remember feeling so much at home before; so safe!

My friends looked like big America writ small in loving needlepoint: African-American men and women and Chinese-and Vietnamese- and Irish- and English-and French-Americans and one black teenager and one white child and Jewish and gentile and heterosexual and gay and lesbian and married and single and Southern and East Coast and Middle Western and nine years old to fifty-six, and nobody fighting and nobody bitter and nobody mad.

In the justified euphoria of that American moment, it was easy to let go of the horror and dread and shame of the last twelve years. Everything good and necessary seemed possible.

We could fathom and then destroy the reasons for the righteous fires of the Los Angeles revolt.

We could memorialize and never again countenance anything like the Salem, Oregon, hate-crime incineration of Hattie Cohen, a twenty-nine-year-old black lesbian, and her white, gay housemate, forty-five-year-old Brian Mock.

We could do away with the stupidity of the so-called "politically correct" debate and, instead, undertake the creation of a new American core education worthy of the old and the emerging majorities of Americans who already fill or drop out of our public schools.

We could properly fund and enshrine our public libraries as the open doors to accurate, multicultural, multiracial, multiethnic, multilingual information that they must become.

We could terminate the awful absurdity of a national argument about who controls a woman's body and her mind.

We could make terrific Grade A PG family-value movies about the hero and the heroine doctors who perform abortions and who provide contraceptive advice despite death threats and bully picket lines and blown-up clinics.

We could cure AIDS.

We could cure breast cancer.

We could learn to praise and lavishly remunerate the nurses and the neighborhood volunteers who comfort and who feed the victims of these killer afflictions.

We could halt and forever forswear the demonization of Arabs and of everybody else who may very well hold different, "un-American" ideas about how things should be in a "new world order."

We could invest the cost of three or four B-2 bombers into the complete, redemptive, onsite-resident-rebuilding of our inner cities.

We could do this. It could happen. We were here to testify. As a people, we had spoken and we had won!

But now it was growing late. And one of my friends, Adrienne, sat down at the piano and began to play. And then another of my friends, Andre, joined her in a love song he'd written years ago--"There may come a time when hunger's not known/and we'll stop the abuse of the Earth, our home. . . ." And then Adrienne modulated from that R&B ballad mode into a Gospel takeover of the keyboard and suddenly Andre was singing, "O beautiful for spacious skies, for amber waves of grain/for purple mountain majesties above the fruited plain. . . ." I looked over my shoulder and I could see Andre's son, seventeen-year-old Mike, standing, loose, and listening to his father, and checking out the gorgeous, daring trust that underlay the whole impromptu delivery of the music:

". . . and crown thy good with brotherhood. . ."

And I was thinking, "Bet: Bill Clinton doesn't know the half of what all his energetic rhetoric about change and hope has started up and set ablaze!"

Andre is a black man in his thirties. He works full-time at one job, and part-time at another regular job as well. Three years ago, he abandoned his career as an R&B singer/songwriter/performer to become the full-time single parent of his only child, Mike. In fact, Andre rescued his son from an abusive home situation and has dedicated himself to activist parenting of a teenager who, among other things, is homophobic.

Andre is gay. His son, Mike, is not. Andre sings and writes R&B ballads. Mike writes rap. And I had been getting to know him and some of his ideas about rap when the Simi Valley verdict of "not guilty" exploded everything. This happened close to the end of Mike's last semester in high school, so he just decided to quit, because "school was messed up, too. They had lost my transcript. And I did my homework but the teacher said I didn't . . . so I left. It was like a burden off my shoulders, really.

"And that same week of the Rodney King thing and this man broke into the lady's house right downstairs from us. And all of a sudden there was this pounding on the door and the lady said what was going on. So I picked up a stick and I went downstairs and I went outside and I was looking for the robber a little bit. Then the police come and they rush up and they grab me. They throw me to the ground: A black lady and a Chinese man. And they ask me for identification. But I never carry no ID. So I said, |Well, I live here!' And they ask me to prove it! And they still trying to lock me up and the black lady police she put handcuffs on me and push my face in the concrete, and man that hurted me too, and she stuck her leg in my back. And around that time my Dad look out the window and he come down and talk to the police and I was hellified mad but Andre tell me to go inside and he stay out there and talk to the police, I guess."

Not long after this, Mike split from his father's house. And Andre searched and walked the streets, but could not find him. Mike had disappeared. And Andre lived crazy with fear: Where was his boy? Who would listen to him? ("Well, I live here!") Who or what would bring him back alive?

After a couple of months, Mike came home. Maybe he thought that the deal that Andre offered him--a home and financial support as long as he stays in school--was as good a deal as anything out here, or better. Maybe he just missed his father and their ongoing arguments about most of the things teenagers fight with their parents about. Maybe he thinks Andre has the best damned family values he ever heard of

Whatever the reason, Mike was back. And his eyes were soft as he stood, listening to the song about America.

And when I asked Mike how he felt about the Clinton victory, did he feel hopeful, he said, "Kinda. Sort of." And then he let me hear snatches from a rap he'd recently stopped working on:

Now I'm not really a political rapper

But this new shit is just as fishy as a

snapper

1992 the year of correction

the out-with-the-old-in-with-the-new

election

Will he clean up health care

wipe out welfare?

All I really wanna know

what's he gonna do for me

stop the drug problem; clean

up my community

Constitution after Constitution after

Constitution

is broken

It's time to leave the courthouse smokin

Go to the corner store/buy me some gas

C'mon back and throw some flames on

that ass

Cause that's the only way/all this madness

gone cease

I said it before/No Justice: No peace!

Mike reiterated that he was no longer working on that rap. And maybe he won't bother to finish it. Or maybe he will. But he's back. He's in school. And, on the night of November 3, 1992, he was here, in my house, with his father. And he stood around, drinking Diet Pepsi, and polishing off the food on his plate, and watching the rest of us do instant analysis, and celebrate.

And when his father's soul baritone merged with Adrienne's gospel rendition of that prayer about our "spacious skies," Mike did not leave. He did not disappear. He stayed where he was standing, at ease. And he stood there, willing to listen and to see what would happen next.

And I don't know what will happen. But Andre, Mike's father, has never given up on this country, or his son. And he's working hard. And he plays by the rules.

And looking at him, and looking at Mike, and resting my eyes upon Adrienne and David and Carolyn and George and Ben and Temu and Margaret and Minh-Ha and Jean-Paul and Fran and Daniel and Evelyn and Amy and Roberta and Lauren and Will--all of my friends who came into a happy and diverse American community of our own making--I could almost touch the infinitely deep and delicate hope that a landslide of election results had given birth to.

And because revolution always takes place on the basis of great hope and rising expectations, I am not too worried about the future. One way or the other, a whole lotta change is gonna come. Through happiness realized or through and beyond the pain of betrayal, we will become the beneficiaries of our faith.

And even without revolution, we will prevail because we have proven to the world, and to ourselves, that we are not "fringe elements" or "special-interest groups" or so-called "minorities." Without us there is no legitimate majority: We are the mainstream. We have become "the people."

And let our elected leadership beware the awesome possible wrath of a mighty, multifoliate, and faithful people whose deepest hopes have been rekindled and whose needs have not been met.
COPYRIGHT 1993 The Progressive, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1993, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
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Title Annotation:George Bush defeat in the presidential election
Author:Jordan, June
Publication:The Progressive
Article Type:Column
Date:Jan 1, 1993
Words:1620
Previous Article:Bigotry and poison.
Next Article:The envelope, please.
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