Friday, November 07, 2008

Obama and Invisible Man

Read this, from Time Magazine, and it got to me:

After the Feb. 21 debate in Austin, Texas, we were leaving in the morning. Barack had the flu. There was an elderly black gentleman who had been our elevator operator for three days. As we got to the ground floor, he said, "Senator Obama, I have something I want to give you," and he handed him his military patch. He said, "I've carried this military patch with me every day for 40 years, and I want you to carry it, and it will keep you safe in your journey." It was just such an unbelievable act of generosity. So later we asked Barack what he had done with it. And he pulled it out of his pocket and said, "This is why I do this. Because people have their hopes and dreams about what we can do together." -- Valerie Jarrett, senior Obama adviser

Possibly because it reminded me of this passage from Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man which I wrote about in my book, where an old man, "Brother Tarp" gives a "keepsake" to the younger "Invisible Man":

"I've been looking for freedom ever since, son. And sometimes I've done alright. Up to these here hard times I did very well, considering I'm a man whose health is not too good. But even when times were best for me I remembered. Because I didn't want to forget those nineteen years I just kind of held on to this as a keepsake and a reminder."
He was unwrapping the object now and I watched his old man's hands.
"I'd like to pass it on to you, son. There," he said, handing it to me. "Funny thing to give somebody, but I think it's got a heap of signifying wrapped up in it and it might help you remember what we're really fighting against. I don't think of it in terms of but two words, yes and no; but it signifies a heap more...I want you to take it. I guess it's a kind of luck piece. Anyway, its the one I filed to get away."

The "object" is a link from the chains that held "Brother Tarp" during 19 years of imprisonment. "A heap of signifying" indeed.

Would like to write a longer piece on this (unintentional?) echo...stay tuned.


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