To answer matter of fact, I don’t know. I wasn’t there. I can only imagine the mounds of hummus and Birkenstock shoes, vegetarian and carnivores standing across from each other with food contests, fruits and rivers of vegetables, and oceans of drinks, sweets, and all you can eat. I mean, a $37,000 meal must take a whole day to consume, right? I want to see the silverware that comes with a $37,000 meal. I wonder how many people that can feed? How many courses is that? Does that come with soup and salad, or just recycled rhetoric and smiles, handshakes, and no real action for the every day American trying to juggle two jobs just to get to work, afford college, run a business and not even making a profit? I’ve been pondering this since the first African American president just left where I currently reside, the Bay Area. To be more specific, I live in Oakland and the President was in Silicon Valley and San Francisco. Two different worlds, although where I live in Oakland I feel safe, I can walk at night, and I mostly take public transportation. I’m sorry, I got off the point. $37,000 for a meal with Obama? The reports said that the money generated, over a million dollars easy, in less than a whole weekend, will go towards Obama’s campaign and the Democratic National Party.
Here’s my question, open to general discussion, but expounding on the amount of money raised I ask, (as an aside, now I realize it’s more than one question) why didn’t you stop at some youth center, some recreation center, some school, some hospital, some corner store in Deep East Oakland, or a community radio station, or a homeless bum in Berkeley and offer financial assistance in the lives of the every day human beings struggling out here while watching your motorcade go by?
The second question is what type of leader can be so insensitive to the fact that you can just swoop in and swoop out with all this cash, and not stop at a soup kitchen? Do you not see the elite audacity to even have a $37,000 meal in these days and times when families can’t even see the American dream anymore? What’s more important, your campaign war chests, or people out here, on the ground?
And who can pay for that kind of a date? I can’t speak for the people who hosted or attended this gathering, but I will say that I am an artist educator in San Francisco, and Berkeley, and there are some youth who could use some school supplies, lunch to take to school, health services and counseling from all the crime and violence right here in this city, and real financial help. I think your money would be better served locally. Californians are proud of the label “eat local.” I have one to add- “help more local.”
But back to our illustrious president Mr. Obama, if you think you are going to come smile and shake some hands, not even in my neighborhood, but some safe suburban enclave, and play the rock star this time around for my vote, you can forget it. You want my vote, come to my hood. Yep, an every day average American citizen, independent artist and educator, is calling out the president. I have a right to. Like Obama said, “Sometimes you have to give the system a push, sometimes you have to give it a shove.” We’ll as an African American male, father, and husband, with some college education, I think my life is not a minority in that there are good men out here, who want to provide for themselves and families, and having a tough go at it in the face of $37,000 meals for campaigns. If you really want have a real photo op Mr. President, if you really want to have the news coverage and media, come to the hood. Pick one. There’s at least one in all 52 of your states, and bring your checkbook.
If you want to play the roll of rockstar, then come make it rain, in the community. It’s not like you didn’t have a few dollars to throw right? No, in all seriousness, money is not the sum answers to the problems of this area, city, or world, but for responsible, hard working, everyday people, it can help. Put an extra meal on the table, an extra pair of shoes, driving classes for a teenager, something that can help. Everyday Americans know how to use money wisely, it’s just not enough it. So when I see a $37000 meal, I’m not playa hatin’s all, I’m just nudging you on the shoulder to remind you to remember the hood. You owe it to them. They are as American as the people who hosted you. They are as important as a Facebook CEO.
As a student of history, I’ve come to learn that most people don’t recall this Dr. King, but do you know his agenda was to end poverty, and to establish a guaranteed annual income to every American (about $4000 was his thinking at the time)? Dr. King’s agenda was clearly on poor people, the less fortunate, and those suffering from poverty by slumlords and closed doors. Mr. President, it may very well be because of Dr. King that you became president, but your agenda seems more on the affluent than the impoverished, corporations over community, and elite gatherings, even the San Francisco event at Moscone Center was like a rap concert with people vying for VIP seats, and then the people who can only afford the balcony seat in general admission.
So back to my original point, what comes with a $37,000 meal? I can tell you, after riding AC Transit the evening you left Mr. President, and saw a woman with her whole life in two oversized Walgreen’s bags, winter coat stained with earth which she is wearing in Spring, ashy hands and eyes of a tired soul with forgotten beauty wrinkles, winter hat tilted, exhausted and sleeping on the bus on my way down Park Blvd. I can tell you, Mr. President, what doesn’t come with it is real tangible change to the millions of people in this country struggling to survive. I saw that with my own eyes. I hope you enjoyed your meal.