From columnist Wanda Sabir of Wandaspicks:The shift in consciousness between 2008 and 2009 is something palatable; almost the same type of anticipation greeted the move between centuries, twentieth into twenty-first, 1999-2000. People are planning to be on the Great Mall, standing along the Reflection Pool, in Washington DC, in front of the Lincoln Memorial, just to say they were there, even if they can’t see Obama in the flesh, they will feel Obama in the persons of all assembled. Many people have said that January 20, 2009 is an opportunity to start all over again— nine (9) is the end of the cycle and perhaps the Obama legacy will be one marked by participatory democracy and real change for all Americans, especially black Americans who have been carrying around checks stamped insufficient funds drawn on the bank of democracy and opportunity for too long.
Obama’s presidency is not the time to sit back and relax. No, it is a time for us to dust off our revolutionary armor, start training again, look at the strategies that worked and what didn’t, reestablishing ties to others and reaching out to like-minded individuals and organizations so that alliances can be developed to strengthen the movement which has been reinvigorated by this man’s personality and leadership—but he can’t, as he says, do any of this rebuilding America, on his own, and if you look at some of his appointees, you don’t want to let him do anything alone.
From an interview between Ms. Sabir and Eartha Kitt in 2006:
EK: “I happen to like this country. Whatever problems we have in the United States of America we can always eradicate. We can get rid of it. We change our president, but you can’t change a dictator or a monarch.“WS: It’s kind of hard – we’ve had Bush for two terms now. He can’t run again; however ….
EK: “That’s only two terms, that’s eight years and you’ve seen what someone does in eight years. … It’s one party against another party. They are always so busy fighting each other that nothing ever gets done. At least Bush did something. You might not like what he did or is doing or not (doing); the point (is) we can change things in our own country.”WS: Okay. I’ll hold onto that thought (I comment as we both laugh). Can you speak about art and politics and the important role of the artist in the healing of the world, the healing of this nation? Artists have a huge impact on society, and you have had a huge impact on society here and elsewhere. Can you talk about this and the responsibility of artists?
EK: “The responsibility of the artist? The responsibility of the artist is to do your work as best you can and hope the audience gets whatever message you are sending. Some of us are out there just playing a game for money and not saying anything. I have always wanted to not preach, but there is always a message in my act: don’t worry about getting old; there is nothing you can do about it, so you might as well enjoy it.
“And don’t complain about everything. One of the most horrendous things about us as Americans, in general, that is we complain about just about everything, and all of this negativism is surrounding our ‘ism’ of power, making it easy for the enemy to look at us and say, ‘Those Americans are crazy, they don’t even like themselves.’“We should always be thinking positive thoughts in general to take care of that which we can take care of and to not worry about those things we can’t take care of, that we can’t do anything about. There is always something positive we can do to nudge things into a more positive direction. But as long as we’re negative about everything, believe me, the news – we see enough negativity on the news, without our getting up in arms among ourselves, shouting down the country, shouting down the president. What good is that doing?“It makes the enemy look at us and say, ‘Look at them. They do not even like their own country. They don’t even like themselves.’“It weakens us even more than we have been weakened by whatever actions the government has taken. We’re helping whatever it is we are complaining about; we’re helping that complaint get stronger in its weakness than we are at making it stronger in a positive way.“As artists, we should do the best we can and hope for the best. If someone asks me a question like you, I would give you my opinion. I don’t believe in getting up on a soapbox against my government or against the president or against …. When I was against Vietnam, I was invited to the White House, and they sat me down at a luncheon with about 49 other women and they asked me asked questions and I gave them my opinion.”Needless-to-say, Kitt’s response to the query about the war was met with surprise and disdain, ostracizing her from the government and endearing her to the public for her vocal stand for justice.
EK: “I always speak the truth, even to the newspapers, but I’m not going to shout down my government or my president ’cause we are defeating out own purposes in many ways.”WS: How is that?EK: Her voice gets stronger and perhaps exasperated. “I just told you, we are helping the enemy. If we want to have some complaint, why not go talk to, what is it, our congressmen – one of these people who represent us. If we complain to them enough, personally, through phone calls and letters and what not, I think we’ll get much further. (We have the power to vote them out of office because let’s face it, some of them are working against our interests)
“We can alienate a president to such an extent by shouting out loud, getting on a soapbox, you defeat your purpose with him or her because (the leader could) and most often responds: ‘I’m not going to go in the direction they want me to go in; I am going to go in the direction I want to go – like Johnson, who said, ‘I’ll not be the first president to lose a war.’“So the more we shouted against the Vietnam War, the longer he wanted it to go on and he did keep it going. There are ways of doing things without getting on a soapbox and shouting out loud and telling the enemy we don’t like ourselves.”WS: You have to be strategic and smart.
EK: “Yeah. There is always a way of being diplomatic about everything to get whatever it is you want to get down done. Look at Martin Luther King; he didn’t shout. He was very silent. Mahatma Gandhi, he didn’t shout and get a stick and start beating people over the head. All he did was go sit down to defy that which was wrong. Gandhi did the same thing.“WS: I hadn’t thought about their strategy and our current situation. I just know that the shouting is not working at all.
EK: “It’s because you’re in a hurry. Everything takes time. You’re trying to knock down a wall too quickly. It takes time before these walls can be knocked down, but as long as you’re nudging at it your way, like we artists are nudging at it in our way, we have no race, creed, color as far as I’m concerned.