Dreams from My Father is a Story of Race and Inheritance, by Barack Obama. In part two, chapter seven, the writer emphasizes on change. His search for a community in Chicago is linked to his personal search for family identity which extends to the last third of the book.
Education was given a lot of emphasis by Barack Obama’s family. In 1983 Obama moved to Chicago where he decided to become a community organizer in the Altgeld Gardens housing project on the city’s south side. He got the opportunity to witness corruption, poverty and, racism and was obliged to make change. His studies in law from Harvard University empowered him with knowledge to make more changes. This is the starting point of his battle for change.
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Barack stated that ‘there are the inner city problems that are painfully true’. He described the South Side of Chicago to be never fully recovered from racial upheaval. For instance Obama observes the poor conditions in Chicago, like the boarded up- homes, the filthy storefronts, the old church rolls, kids from families that were not known on the streets- loud congregations of teenage boys. He recounts the teen age girls feeding potato chips to crying toddlers in p 144. In this chapter, Obama explores change but never says what he wants to change. It is not possible to figure his idea about change because, he even admits that he do not comprehend what he is talking about, Obama decided to become a community organizer in 1983 but there was no much detail to the idea.Obama stated confirms that he didn’t know anyone making a living that way. When asked by his classmates on the functions of a community organizer, he could not answer them directly but instead, he would pronounce on the need for change. Obama wanted change in the White House, where other leaders were carrying on their dirty deeds. More so, he wanted changes in the Congress and corruption. Change was also to be adopted in the mood of the country and music. Change was not supposed to come from top, but would come from a mobilized grassroots P. 133.
Obama is clear on what he wants to change, trying to make people become responsible and take ownership of their lives by mobilizing them to improve their communities which he initiated by having the long section of the community project to removed from the low income housing. Obama talked about changing the mood in the country; this was a period when optimism was very high in America and was instilled by his predecessors. He did not recognize the kind of changes that he wanted to make but talked about change for changes sake, which could be termed as an idiocy.
He stressed on exorcising the ghostly figure that was hunting the black dreams. All that was aid by the ordinary people, the language, the humor the stories that were the stuff with which communities and economies were to be built, he would have separated his strength from the hurt and distortions that lingered around. The implications of this disturbed him and in particular the leadership, and in overcoming all the odds that existed in the communities, that had arisen from poverty, diseases and drought which existed from the experiences of hate as a result of racism. Obama stated that hate hadn’t gone away; it had formed a counter story plunged deep within each person and at the centre of which stood the white, some ignorant, some cruel. For instance Obama used to ask himself whether the bonds of community could be restored without collectively exorcising that ghostly figure that haunted black dreams as seen in P. 179.
The use of figurative language in this section describes the plight of the black American under the cruel leadership of the whites, these required changed.
This is the background of welfare and poverty in America, in 1996, President Clinton signed the welfare reform bill that ended the federal entitlement to welfare and imposes a strict work requirement on recipients and presented a time limit of five-year life time for aid. In addition to this, in 1995, many poor children received food stamps and the figure drastically dropped down by a bigger percentage in 1988. The welfare load was standing at approximately 2 million beneficiaries and dropped to about a third when the welfare reform bill was enacted.
Thus, this epiphany of change has been evident in all the efforts made by President Barrack Obama. He made it his slogan in his bid to become the 44th president of the U.S.A, “Change We Can Believe in” and the chant “Yes We Can” (Obama 2004).
The epiphany of change is portrayed in this book and as a writer; he talks basically on race, culture, family relationships and education. He made a change as an African American president of the U.S.A, by becoming an African American president breaking the diametric prejudice of the world history that was promoting racial discrimination. This book is a universal view of world history that explores the meaning of life as a whole.
Obama’s experience in Chicago in a community organization housing project is central to his biography such as his experiences underlying a sense of social justice and prophetic statements that he made. Chapter seven makes the book- Dream from My Father- to be turned as a political memoir for biographical facts and the quotes that accompanies the political commentary that inevitably highlights the compromises that existed in the early ideals of the high political life and office. This biography is interspersed with his meditations on community, social justice and the relationships between the blacks and the whites in America.
The language used in the Dreams from My Father is never well labored and contains a graceful, lyrical charge with the portrait of Obama’s deceased father becoming more fully realized as the book progresses in a tandem with the maturation. Change in the American and, international politics was a signal that ended the neoconservative policies that were prevalent in the Bush administration and that extended back to Reagan’s administration. The complete overhaul of the American politics and the international relations, the American election results came at a time when global capitalism arrived at a time of crisis and therefore the dawn for a real and systemic change. The election of President Obama signaled the rejection of the barbaric international policies and the inequalities that existed in the domestic policies.
In Obama's novel "Dreams From my Father" at the end of Chapter 18 there is an excerpt,
"You must respect your elders. They clear the way for you so that your path is easier. But if you see them falling into a pit, then you must learn to what?"
"Step around," Bernard said.
"You are right. Diverge from that path and make your own."
Sayid put his arm over the younger man's shoulders. As we approached Salina's House, I looked back behind me. I could still see the dim light of the old man's window, and sense his blind eyes staring out into the darkness" (Obama 2004).Here, the old man is his father who died father. Obama is trying to find out exactly who his father really is for his father is a compelling man with. The epiphany comes about when Obama says he's looking back into the house. He talks of ‘he senses his blind eyes staring into the darkness.’
How can a man be blind and stare at the same time? The stare here means anything about a blind person, for instance his, father was not blind. He could refer to his father being blind because his father did not understand everything about the family. I t could also be referring to the fact that the whole world could not see what Obama’s father was seeing. Therefore, thinking in his line was like viewing things in a peculiar manner, as in, things looked weird. When Obama talks of, ‘Staring into darkness’ – meaning that the father is pessimistic and sees no future for himself. He sees family as doomed because their father was not caring for them, he did not care about the mother and the family as a whole. The father was not providing for the family as well as educating the children (Obama 2004).
In chapter 2, Obama remembers an incident where he talks of ‘ its head lolling grotesquely against its side, its legs pumping wildly in a wide, wobbly circle…the blood trickling down to a gurgle..” (p 3zaz5). Obama, however, does not want to associate himself with this. It actually happened. That’s where the chicken stew came from. Barrack speaks of America, and his race in America that we see his matter of fact manner disappear. Obama talks of how he adapted to life in Indonesia and shows us how he learnt their culture and language. He even learnt how to take care of himself in that foreign environment. Furthermore, Obama takes us into his mother’s mind in the chapter 2 of how she feels in this place than of how Obama feels. The chapter ends by him trying to display his confusion and his insecurities. Eventually, he realizes he is a foreigner in his home-in the country he was born. For instance, Obama recounts the episode in the chapter when there were thousands of people like him, black people in America who would undergo the same treatment as a result of advertisements that promised happiness as a white person.Obama felt his face and neck get hot. His stomach knotted; the type began to blur on the page. (p 30).More so, Obama describes things he that makes the reader uncomfortable. For instance, he talks of things he would reveal to grandparents in letters. Obama recounts that he did not tell the truth about the face of the man who had visited them with a gaping hole where his nose should have been. He made a whistling sound as he asked my mother for food, as in, P 37. Obama uses the foreign place to reveal how he does not feel like he is welcome where he came from. It’s the picture of America that Obama gets in Indonesia that make him feel foreign.
The Dreams from My Father shows the arrival of an African American president who is very thoughtful on matters of nature and power as compared to a man who could just obtain it. He is a man who is focused to bring change real change to the nation.
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