Barack Obama of Generation X


Our generation has been dismissed as a bunch of lazy slackers, but in our midst is the most famous and respected American of all time. He is born on the early end of the Generation X era, but he is one of us.

As usual, the press has ignored our part in the election and focused on another generation, the “Generation Y” 20-somethings who follow us. Not only did we invent the Internet that catalyzed this victory, but Obama’s values are our own.

Obama makes JFK look like a wuss. He’s got Abe Lincoln’s eloquence with none of his stiffness. Obama has both “suit-cred” and “street-cred”; he can talk to anyone. When he was interviewed by a young black man about youth clothing, he answered, “Man, you look tight” — the youth lingo rolling off his tongue naturally. (He went on to say “brothers should pull up their pants” – something which I totally agree with!)
Obama is comfortable in his own skin, fit, and endowed with a sense of humor.

As visionary Caroline Casey points out, “Barack” means “lightning” and “Obama” means “The good”.
He is the flash of lightning that catalyzes all the hope in our youthful hearts that as been buried by cynicism at growing up in a corrupt world. I wept with joy to see the crowd that gathered in Chicago’s Grant Park – a sea of fresh young faces, neither hip nor square, neither east coast nor west coast.

I got chills when I heard the baby-boomer host of the radio show the Prairie Home Companion singing, “the guys in their 60s are gone … to cut brush and mow the lawn.” He went on to muse how this was the last year for anyone of his generation to run for president, a generation devoted to “chronic adolescent protest”. We were greedy, he declared; we loved SUVs as much as the next person. The young generation is more honest, more awesome, more selfless. After all, he quipped, “Would you have wanted the Grateful Dead to manage your pension fund?”

I went to the Green Festival in San Francisco this November, a huge expo for ecological sustainability. It was a great moment for the progressive pioneers to bask in our collective victory and ride the wave to create more change. Many of the great speakers, such as Caroline Casey and Amy Goodman, inspired the joyful audience to continue our work to save the planet from the greed of those who pollute and destroy it. But arguably, the speakers who uplifted us the most were two African-Americans: Dr. Cornell West and Van Jones. These men come from a tradition of African-American orators who move their audience in ways few white speakers do, with deep, stirring oratory. They told the truth about the dark side of America as well as the greatness, moving us to tears and making us laugh.

I looked around the room at the joyful faces. I wondered if other white folks wished they felt comfortable shouting out “That’s right!” and, “Bring it!” as the black folk did in response to the speakers. With the elegant Obama family in the White House, many of us white folk can indulge a secret crush on the African-Americans who have endured despite all odds, and transmuted their suffering to create some of the most popular music on the planet. Let’s tell the truth: how much of white folks’ racism is actually envy of black folks who keep alive something we have long lost: a sense of ecstasy in body and soul? And now we shyly wish they could forgive the sins of our fathers, and accept us in all our inhibitions and awkwardness. Can we change the world together?


~ by elishashekinah on November 24, 2008.

2 Responses to “Barack Obama of Generation X”

  1. Obama an Xer?! He is not even remotely an Xer. As many nationally influential voices have repeatedly noted, he is part of Generation Jones, born 1954-1965, between the Boomers and Generation X. Google Generation Jones, and you’ll find that many top commentators from many top publications and networks (New York Times, Time magazine, NBC, Newsweek, ABC, etc.) are using that term now, and are specifically referring to Obama, born in 1961, as part of Generation Jones.

  2. Wazz, thanks for your comment, and you’re titled to your opinion. I respectfully take issue with your statement that he is not even “remotely” Gen X. If you google Obama and Gen X, you will find a range of opinions, many include him in the early range of X. The Generation X wikipedia article has many different ranges for the generation including starting in 1961. It depends whether we’re considering “half generations”. I never heard of Generation Jones before now. If you only count major generations, he’s more X than Boomer.

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