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Dreams from My Father - Preface, Intro & Ch. 1, 2, 3 &am 
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Post Dreams from My Father - Preface, Intro & Ch. 1, 2, 3 &am
Dreams from My Father - Preface, Intro & Ch. 1, 2, 3 & 4



Tue Feb 03, 2009 6:04 pm
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I have actually found the book in pdf and reading it on lunch breaks here at work. I was expecting him to talk about how he is so well suited for politics. This is exactly what Hilary Clinton did in her book. That is the main reason why I stopped reading her book. I couldn't get passed the this is why I am a NY Senator and this is why I should be president. I honestly couldn't take it.

With that in mind, I was hesitate but willing to read President Obama's book. During his campaign for president, I saw a man who was pretty much like you and me. He didn't try to use fancy words and acted like he wanted to work with the US citizen and not try to rule them.

Upon reading both introductions (I am reading the second edition), I was surprised to find very little political grandstanding. Yes there is some but it is almost like he was telling us, superfiscally of course, what he experienced and who really drove him to right this book...his family. I have read alot of autobiographies. I must say this introduction is one of the best I have read.

What is your impression of just the introduction(s)? Do you think that it is just a smoke screen? Or do you think there are some very down to earth sincere thoughts that are coming out of it?


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Wed Feb 04, 2009 12:24 pm
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I'm really glad we have such a gifted writer and communicator for a President, but I think to read this book I need to forget how and why I voted. I need to look at him as a bi-racial child growing up somewhere in a no-man's land between white and black anchored by a loving and decent family. I'm almost finished with chapter 4 at this point. I think it's interesting how his mother and grandparents painted such a glowing picture of Barack Sr. (charming, brilliant, fearless, commanding presence) even after he had been gone for years. I'm sure he really did possess many of those qualities, but it just makes the questions more obvious: why did such a great man leave his wife and son? They seem to have been genuinely in love in the beginning, but their marriage is a very vague and mysterious period. If his mother and grandparents knew the real reasons why the marriage faded and he left for Kenya they weren't saying. All approaches to difficult topics seem to get detoured back to these beautifully polished stories. It's understandable they wanted to protect the boy from a very harsh world. To a certain extent their convenient revisions were done out of love but the grandparents were also working through their own mixed feelings. I'm not sure they did Barack much good later as subtleties of race began unfolding when he's about 10. I think two passages say the conflict best:

Page 51: "Every black man was Thurgood Marshall or Sidney Poitier; every black woman was Fannie Lou Hamer or Lena Horne. To be black was to be the beneficiary of a great inheritance, a special destiny, glorious burdens that only we were strong enough to bear."

and then later to be confronted by a Life magazine article of about a black man undergoing a botched procedure to lighten his skin, the black character's on television being there but not really there.

Page 52: "I kept these observations to myself, deciding that either my mother didn't see them or she was trying to protect me and that I shouldn't expose her efforts as having failed. I still trusted my mother's love -- but now I faced the prospect that her account of the world, and my father's place in it, was somehow incomplete."



Thu Feb 05, 2009 6:25 pm
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I am now on Chapter 3, so I am a little behind. I also trying to trying to keep my voting reasoning out of the reading of this book. It is hard though.

I too have been amazed by the good natured stories the family have been telling him. My father and biological mother were divorced, thus leaving my brother and I with my father. I never heard one story either negative or positive from my father. He didn't want to talk about it. So we didn't push.


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Fri Feb 06, 2009 8:38 am
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I too was very touched by the grandparents. They are so loving and they tried very hard to make sure Barack had a positive image of himself or not harbor any ill will to his father. His mother is so quietly strong. Imagine the determination to go against the grain and marry a black man in the late 1950s. They must have been so in love at the time. I can see why, Barack Sr. seems to be so intellegent, confident, and charismatic.

One thing I've been very impressed by is how keenly aware he is of the nuaces of race. Sometimes he experiences racism from white people and identifies himself more black. Yet he also says he feels like a characiture of a black adolencent and almost an imposter because he can't fully identify with the experiences of other black people. And even when he feels like railing against the white establishment he remembers his mother. Always this internal back and forth but never really fitting in anywhere. I think his being biracial has allowed him to (as objectively as one can) discuss race from both perspectives as well as he does. I have no idea what it's like to be black or even biracial, but I through him I can feel that there's a sense of always being on guard, always keeping your eyes open. As one of his grandfather's friends puts it, he could never sleep soundly in a white friend's house.

We tell our children race doesn't matter, that we should judge people on their character. That's still a very noble lesson, but obviously for a biracial child it does matter very much. He has such a craving to belong somewhere, to have a concrete identity. Would this necessarily been resovled had his father been present? To what extent does having a racial indentity matter in becoming a whole person? Why does it seem more of an imperative to races other than white? Can a white person have a racial identity without being racist?



Sun Feb 08, 2009 1:13 pm
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Trish, could you please give me a link to the site that allowed you to read Obama's book for free.
As it is I was lucky, i tried to order mine as soon as Chris has had said it was the winnner, from amazon, and they say the book, will take 12 days to take I could have compared with all the other offers-- usually you spend a lot of time comparing prices, and at the end of the day there's a diference of 1 dollar or 50 cents-- I was not in the mood to try. But it would be nice to have a link on the net so that I didn't miss on the first chapters.


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Sun Feb 08, 2009 4:46 pm
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That was someone else Ophelia. I went out and bought mine at the bookstore.



Sun Feb 08, 2009 4:52 pm
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Raving Lunatic,

Youn said you were reading the book in pdf, could you give me the address before myn copy arives please?

Thanks!


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Sun Feb 08, 2009 4:58 pm
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Ophelia wrote:
. . . You said you were reading the book in pdf, could you give me the address before my copy arrives please?


Ophelia, this might be it:

obamalover.googlepages.com/DreamsFromMyFather.pdf

I have slow Internet access and haven't downloaded it.

Tom



Sun Feb 08, 2009 6:58 pm
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There's so much going through my head as I am reading. I've had many of the same observations about race, but the book articulates it much better than I ever could. I do believe that things will never really change unless we can have open and frank conversations about race. I've noticed though not many African Americans are willing to discuss the problems plaguing their communities publicly I suppose to not give any justification to hate. On the other side too many whites want to compartmentalize racism as something of the past and can't understand why anyone is still so angry. Why are we still having such a failure of communication?



Thu Feb 12, 2009 9:12 pm
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It's such a strange thing that race can become the reason to oppress or hate. A difference in color or appearance, that's all it is. I think of that phrase, "the narcissism of small differences," and how that ignorant attitude has plagued humanity forever.


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Thu Feb 12, 2009 11:07 pm
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That kind of enlightenment is somehow a luxury for white people. In the meantime I think what Barack is saying is that black people are constantly reminded of their race one way or another. There's a huge break between our ideals about race and the reality in which people live.



Thu Feb 12, 2009 11:59 pm
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Thanks for the link Tom! :smile:


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Fri Feb 13, 2009 12:23 am
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Trish wrote:
That kind of enlightenment is somehow a luxury for white people. In the meantime I think what Barack is saying is that black people are constantly reminded of their race one way or another. There's a huge break between our ideals about race and the reality in which people live.

I'm not sure what you meant by your first sentence, Trish.


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Fri Feb 13, 2009 7:42 pm
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http://obamalover.googlepages.com/Dream ... Father.pdf is the link.

Obama is not a descendent of slaves. This seems to be a critical factor in his perspective on America's racial politics. He has copped the prejudice from whites, but was raised by a white family, giving him cultural and physical resources to deal with prejudice in a way that is not possible for many blacks. He seems to have an inner confidence and poise that has been either beaten out of many black people or transformed into a set of oppositional values that enable coping but not success. Slavery established such a crushing constant oppression, together with its racist ideology of white superiority, that its effects continue to permeate American society. Trish's comment about the luxury of enlightenment seems to me to refer to the fear many white people have of black crime, and the social divide that continues to separate the races.



Sat Feb 14, 2009 12:28 am
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