I glean a lot of my news and current events from John Stewart on The Daily Show. Sad as that may be, he’s a lot more entertaining than Brian Williams.
Recently he had a woman on his show (I can’t remember her name) who criticized those who hailed Barak Obama as an ‘African American’ presidential hopeful, stating that Obama’s father came to America in the 60’s, which meant his descendants didn’t come from the struggle of slavery, and therefore he wasn’t REALLY an African American in the American sense.
She got a little ridiculous in her semantics, calling him an ‘African’ African-American, but I think I was getting her point. She felt Obama could not embrace the plight of the Black Man because his lineage has not had to press through the trials and tribulation of slavery, and overcome the effects and the dysfunction that this oppression has caused generations of African Americans.
In similar news, the other day John Stewart had the Reverend Al Sharpton on The Daily Show to talk about the shocking news that he is a descendant of a slave owned by a descendant of Strom Thurman’s. It was an interesting discussion, and I think what struck me the most was Sharpton’s point that slavery is really not that far removed from our generation.
The slave owned by Thurman’s descendant was his great-grandfather.
I didn’t know any of my own great grandparents because I am the youngest in my family, but Ruthie knew her great-grandmother, and my sister’s kids knew their great-grandmother. It is a generation that is within our reach; it is a generation with stories to tell while we sit on bended knees.
I know I, for one, think of slavery as something that happened long, long ago in a galaxy far, far away, so I appreciated this perspective brought to me through the interview with Sharpton.