Saturday, April 18, 2009

The First 100 Days: Who's Really Counting?

It was only yesterday that millions of people in the United States and around the world were recovering from the elation of the election of President Barack Obama. A sea of change swooped into our lives. Literally.

Though our memory is short, we have taken the snapshot of 100 days as a benchmark of presidential achievement and prediction of the future. It is not only a moment of reflection, but it is also an assessment of ability and capacity. It is a historical microscope.

For those who voted (and those who didn't), it is important to note that our civic engagement played a big role in this election. In this regard, one should be reminded that it is not only President Obama's record that ought to be evaluated, but also the role we play in the process. As the world pontificates about his first 100 days, we neglect to self-reflect on our job as citizens. Notwithstanding, it is important to pause for a moment.

First and foremost, the image of Barack and Michelle Obama and their family is a powerful reality for many. Their mere presence transcends the color of their skin. The essence of their family is a poignant message and refreshing tone for the White House. Likewise, the openness of the White House is a pleasant reminder of who really owns the House. This will bode well in how we continue to evaluate the Obama Administration's record in the months and years to follow.

For image, tone, and temperament, he receives an A.

Second, his style of communication is a consistent hold-over from the campaign trail. He is steady, confident, and clear. Conversely, President Obama has not fully utilized opportunities to speak directly to the American people to announce or discuss policy initiatives. He cannot afford to overlook one of his best assets - his popularity among the majority of Americans. It would be highly advisable to take his message into the heart of the country whenever possible. In addition, President Obama tried earnestly and possibly too much, to reach across the aisles of bipartisanship. He was rebuffed. He is learning the balance of power. The Republican Party has not fully recovered and simply is not yet in the mood. Nonetheless, he should keep trying.

For communication style, he receives a B+.

Third, President Obama is likely to be judged more substantively on his crafted and executed policies. With an inherited country in an emotional and financial tailspin, President Obama did not spare seconds in to stabilize and restore confidence in the economy. While setting a new ethical bar for lobbyist influence and a plan for withdrawal from Iraq, he boldly spearheaded vital investments for the creation of jobs and the improvement of education, healthcare, and energy. The verdict is still pending, however, on confidence in all issues related to national security. Undoubtedly, I am certain there is more behind the scenes than to the naked eye. Likewise, I believe his team is still settling in. The first quarter just ended. He must keep his an eye on the ball of fiscal discipline and the necessary tools of homeland security.

For policy development, he receives an A-.

Fourth, President Obama and his wife, Michelle, have taken the world by storm. She is blazing her own trail and he is taking statesmanship to another level. The most fascinating fact for both of them is that they are not fully settled into the role. They appear comfortable. Their mutual upbringing is evident in how they interact with other world leaders. Most importantly, he is communicating a consistent message to the rest of the world that America is ready to lead again. Unapologetic and refreshing. The fruits of this personality trait will be one to watch. It may change the world axis for generations.

On a personal note, it was a pleasure to see him in the land of oil and music. He will have to return for a more personal visit outside of the shadows of Cuba and Venezuela.

For international relations, he receives an A+.

Lastly, President Obama is definitely the star on the court. I am not convinced whether he has picked an all-star team with a deep bench. With the exception of Hillary Clinton, the rest of the team will need to prove their worth. Although the vetting process showed signs of weariness, it demonstrated lapses of complacency. These lapses could leak into other fora. In preserving your all star's MVP status, there is not much room for error or lack of discipline.

For the administrative transition, he receives a C.

In wrapping up these first 100 days, it is important to note that it is best to shape history than to have history shape you. From the beginning of his campaign, President Obama set out to shape history on a resounding platform of CHANGE. In the process, he shaped himself, shaped our outlook, and changed the axis of history before inauguration. His next hundreds of days will be highly dependent on remaining authentically committed to those core values emanating from the campaign. Until then, you hold the personal power on granting his final grade.

Monday, January 19, 2009

The Day Before/Morning of CHANGE

It is the day before or morning of CHANGE. You can feel it the air. You can see it in the smiles of folks. You can see it the brisk of peoples' step. You can hear in the tone of conversations. You can smell it in the bustling restaurants. You can sense it in the voices of those who call or write from around the world.

We are on the brink of the world changing its axis. It is a moment bigger than anyone person - but spark by the spirit, persona, values, intent of one who has inspired others to be great in our own individual way. It is likely that this will be one of the most watched moments in the world. Where will you be? What emotion will you capture on this morning? What self-evident truth will you validate for yourself? What intention will you claim - as you raise your right hand to recite simultaneously and silently your citizen oath.

I would like to recommend something that we could do together. Let's make a note to ourselves as to what the moment resonates beyond us and let's commit to acting on these intentions with deliberate purpose.

I am convinced that that same spark that moved us to renew our purpose through the campaign was not by coincidence. These moments do come by often.

Live it, feel it, embrace it.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

The Power of Music and Imagery

Today, we celebrate the birthday of Dr. King. I know that we are overwhelmed with all the inauguration activities - but today is the day that the Lord has made. Today, God says that he makes us in the image of himself - each of us are carved from Him to make our own contribution to this world. We thank Him for giving us Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and giving him the courage to make a profound impact on our world. Today, we lift him up.

My experience today will center around the power of music - and how it brings people together. I have always be fascinated how music is used as a tool to break barriers and to build emotional connections. But even in today's world, we still find reasons to make war and not love.

What is most evident with this Inauguration is the diversity in constituencies that are present. For people of color - there is a myriad of languages, ethnicities, and backgrounds. Then, there are other various interests groups and lifestyles - unions, advocacy organizations, GLBT, etc. And all of these spheres are celebrating in their own way. It is impossible to keep up with all the events, much less to afford them.

It is clear that the full strata of American society is present in Capitol town this weekend. Whether you own the U.S. Treasury or contribute to the U.S. Treasury, folks are finding a way to soak in every moment.

Today, I will look to the power of music to inspire, motivate, and activate. Here is the schedule:

First, to the Lincoln Memorial in the SW - for the We Are One - for a blockbuster Inauguration Welcome Concert, 2pm - 4:30pm

Then, to the De Island Loft - 1348 4th Street, NE, in the D.C. Farmer's District for the SocaRama Day Fete, 2pm-8pm

Then, I am sure we will find another musical hotspot for a night spot.

I hope to report on the imagery and the power that music still holds.

One love

Saturday, January 17, 2009

America: A Country in Motion

As I stepped outside this morning, I was more prepared for the bone chilling frost against my exposed skin. The day's weather is crisp and the clear blue sky opens the horizons in every direction.

I joined the bustling line for the tour of the Capitol. I noticed one thing immediately. There is a disproportionate amount of people of color. And lots of families. I wondered how many of these people had ever thought about visiting the epicenter of the volume of their voice - the Capitol - where 438 House Members and 100 Senators pursue the collective vision of "E Pluribus Unum - Out of Many, One" - to find common ground on issues important to all Americans.

As you walk through the respective rotundas, the enormity of the history in the context of the anticipated moment of this week takes hold of your own place - your own voice. The Founding Fathers dreamed of a more perfect union and as the time passed, the country reached to find its steady compass.

We the people elect representatives to covert the currency of our voice into policy and laws in the best interest of the nation. It is the magic of consensus of role of Congress, all embedded in the permanency of the rock of the Capitol.

I hope at some point you will travel to Washington to learn first hand how your government works. It does not function without you. Literally.

Until the next,

Frozen Citizen.

Soaking in History

Today will begin with an official tour of the Capitol, a visit American History Museum, and a drive by of the White House. I thought it would be important to reflect on the history of this moment before actually witnessing it. With a good breakfast, layered clothing, a spirited prayer, I am ready to soak in history.

I will have a full report later today on my historical perspective.

One love.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Are You Ready to be Sworn In?

I arrived today to Washington D.C. on a delayed flight and underestimated the weather. It was a crippling 17 degrees. My tropical veins froze. There is a reason why brown and black people are from where we are from across the globe. I was dressed appropriately, but I thought at least I would have been able to break out the fur flip-flops. Not quite. The town was bustling. The air was crisp and there was a business like manner of every working person.

Due to my delayed flight, I had an hour to get from the airport to the Russell Senate Building to pick up coveted Inauguration ceremony tickets. It was tight and this was my last chance. I literally arrived at the building at 2:59. As I opened the car door, I felt I immediately knew what it is like to suffer from arthrhitis. Just frozen. No time to complain! Chop. Chop!

I made to the office as it was closing. Literally. The staff member smilled. With my frozen countenance, I gave her a half smile. The other side did not move. She handed me my credentials (see photo). I sighed.

As I stepped back outside the building, I could view the Inauguration stand in front of the Capitol. Though empty, it spoke volumes. I could hear the history of voices. Then it struck me. On Tuesday, Jan. 20, right before 12 noon, President-Elect Barack Obama will not take the oath of office ALONE - we will also be taking an oath. For this election season, we vowed with our vote to contribute to CHANGE we believe. We committed to helping to advance the legacy of this nation. We vowed to put our shoulder to the wheel. We promised to challenge the status quo. We vowed to pick up the pieces of our lives and work together for mutual prosperity. On Tuesday, this Inauguration will not be solely about Barack Obama, it will also be about our own word.

Whether you will be here in Washington or at home across the world, it will definitely be a special weekend and moment. I will be checking in each day to give you a snapshot and taste of the experience.

For now, I will count on the thoughts of the experience to warm my frozen veins. Button up and get ready to sworn in.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

A Community of Resolutions

Every New Year, we reach for the stars. Some make it there and others don't - but have fun trying. One of the best ways to guarantee success is to seek continuous support from family and friends - in sharing ideas and best practices, finding inspiration and motivation from each other, and celebrating accomplishments at every opportunity. From our daily online community of Facebook and beyond, we searched near and far for the best mantras for 2009 to inspire each other to new heights.

The Top 10 Grammies for '09 mantras go to:

1. In 2009, real CHANGE is a state of MIND. (Alison Berke-Morano)
2. 2009, time to get up OFF your behind! (Lisa Colon-Heron)
3. 2009 will be just FINE, if we give it some TIME. (Joe Scott)
4. It's 2009 + our new president is FINE! (Rebkah Howard)
5. 2009: Refine, Realign, SHINE. (Rebecca Kollaras)
6. Live '09 like it is your last LIFELINE. (Shirley Cesar)
7. 2009 is MINE! (Kathryn Alliman-Mullings)
8. Lead your tribe in 2009 (Andy Louis-Charles)
9. 2009 there is no better time. (Collett Small)
10. Drink WINE in '09 (Gordon Myers)

Let's continue to share our resolutions and goals with each other and reach for real CHANGE WE CAN BELIEVE IN.

One Love.