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Sensei Obama's Chill Dojo

At first, I was angry at the protesters who spat on Representative John Lewis and hurled racial epithets (not “epitaphs” as one reporter called them) at Lewis and Representative Emanuel Cleaver II. Seething, mind you. Then I was angry at Lewis and Cleaver for not commenting on the incidents. Then I was angry at President Obama for not calling the protesters on their racism.

And then I chilled.

Consider me a new student in President, or rather, Sensei Obama’s Chill Dojo.

I realized that, like President Obama and Representatives Lewis and Cleaver, I could not allow the N word to have the power over me that those who used it on Lewis and Cleaver wanted it to have. I, like President Obama, needed to focus not on the extraneous and the offensive, but the goal itself – enacting health care legislation.

I know my husband, Black Man Not Blogging (BMNB), has heard criticisms of President Obama at his barber shop to the effect that the President needs to be “more black” – and, in this case, I think that meant “more angry.” I know my first inclination when I heard that Representative Lewis, who had literally taken blows in Selma to march for the freedoms I enjoy, had been called the N-word and spat on, was to take up arms. I wanted to show those protesters that I wasn’t part of the non-violent Dr. King civil rights generation, but the “by any means necessary” pre-Hajj Malcolm X generation. And that I wasn’t alone.

And that’s exactly what they would have wanted – that Lewis, Cleaver, and even President Obama – lose focus. That they give power to that most offensive word at the expense of representative democracy and social justice.

So I took my cue from the President. And when the House vote hit 216 Sunday night, I quietly rejoiced and realized that had the President and Representatives Lewis and Cleaver given those racial epithets the power that those who used them thought they had, we might not be talking about a health care victory today, but what could have been had we chilled and remained focused.

I guess that is the first rule of Sensei Obama’s Chill Dojo: Chill and remain focused.

Indeed.

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