I don’t want to be right. And certainly not this week: The Obamas have an adorable new dog named Bo. The media has gone wild with its fascination over this pet, and I must embarrassingly admit that I have to.
My love affair with this dog has almost matched my infatuation with his owners. The media frenzy this week shows us that despite what some would have us believe, our love affair with the Obamas has not yet ended.
I know that as a political activist I shouldn’t admit to this. And in particular, as a black political leader, I am not supposed to admit that I’m in love with Barack, with Michelle, and with this Administration. But that’s because many of our social justice activists and leaders don’t understand how true love works.
When I love, I love fiercely. Sure lovers are loyal, supportive and protective. But in a healthy relationship, they are also honest, critical, challenging, and so connected and united that they are willing to work overtime for the success of their shared vision. The love affair that many in our communities have with this Administration doesn’t mean that we won’t question his decision to send troops to Afghanistan. It doesn’t mean that we won’t push him to address crack and powder cocaine disparities. It doesn’t mean that we won’t follow his every single move with our money on issues like health care, jobs, and education. On the contrary it means that we care and will pay attention and cultivate a political relationship of intimacy, honesty, trust, and passion – working hard to get things done together.
So for all of my fellow well intentioned activists, commentators and leaders who have come into my community and said to the excited, wide-eyed, first time voters “Get over the love for Obama”, you’ve been playing it wrong and are risking not only alienation from progressive people of color and our generation, but of souring the beauty of a transformative moment in politics that has the potential to bring people into a process that has for so long kept them locked out. Our infatuation with Bo, and the rest of his family, isn’t a hindrance to political engagement. It’s a motivator.
So stop trying to break us up. Just encourage us to be better lovers.