My experience with African/Americans is limited. In 1956 our Catholic boarding school, St. Edward’s in Austin, Texas had no black boarders. But we had one black day student called Richard Mosby. We never seemed to be aware that he was black nor did we ever have any issues with him. But he did have a tendency to mouth off. One day (a day I have not forgotten) he just did not shut up in our religion class. Brother Edwin Reggio, C.S.C who was not an inch taller than five foot picked him up with his left hand (Brother Edwin was right handed) and took him to the far wall of the classroom and told him, “You be quiet.” He then dropped him on the spot. Mosby was a good basketball player and a good student when he was not mouthing off. In our ignorance we called his overly graceful walk, that of someone with a chicken butt.
Sometime in the early 60s, I was by then long gone from St. Ed’s, the very fashionable Driskill Hotel on 6thStreet (not yet fashionable) had a problem with the boys of St. Ed’s having their prom there. They knew that there were a few black boys. The principal of St. Ed’s Brother Peter Celestine called the Austin Bishop and the problem was quickly resolved. That St. Ed’s prom at the Driskill was the first integrated prom in the area.
In my one year at St. Edward’s University one of my friends was Gabriel Burning Spear. He was from what then was called Kenya in Africa. For our amusement we would go with Gabriel to restaurants and we were always blocked from entering. Gabriel would have been wearing his ceremonial garb. We explained to the manager that Gabriel was the son of a United Nations adviser. Invariably we were allowed in.
Around 1964 I was introduced to a girl whom my friend Robert said was perfect for me. At the time we were attending Mexico City College. The curriculum was in English so many of the students were men on G.I Bill. There were many other Americans including Benjamin (call me Benji) who was from Chicago. She was very black and when I was introduced she told me, “I recently converted to Judaism.”
You can imagine what it was like to walk hand in hand with a black woman in the Mexico City of the time. My mother who was teaching at the American AlCOA school in Veracruz told me that I could not bring Benji as the powers-that-be would not approve.
One day Benji at a beatnik café called La Rana Sabia (the Wise Frog) told me that she never dated a man that in her opinion would not make good marriage possibilities. I was saved by being drafted into the Argentine Navy. For a couple of years I received a subscription to Downbeat in Buenos Aires. I knew who paid for it. I never heard from Benji again.
Having watched American presidents for many years (I am 72) and considering that I was shooting pool on September 20 while watching Nixon and Kennedy debate on the TV I believe I know a bit about the matter. Earlier in the late 50 my class went to Washington DC and we went to Senator Lyndon Johnson’s office. He gave us all a card (signed my him) certifying we had attended a session of the senate. I looked at the card (to my detriment as I look back) and promptly threw it away.
Since Obama became president my wife and I have been watching MSNBC and we are fans of the man. For us there is nothing that he can do wrong. I would even go as far that the criticism that he is standoffish is what makes him (and here it is!) the first cool American President.
By simply recommending the novels of Ian Fleming President John Kennedy was close to being cool.The fact that President Bill Clinton played the saxophone did not make him cool. It is hard to be cool and be from the state of Arkansas.
Obama is cool in every possible way that Governor Chris Christy can never be. Nor can Jeb Bush, who might have shocked the US Nation by declaring his candidacy in shirt sleeves (no jacket and yes in spite of it all it was a button-down shirt and that did not help).
Obama looks good in his clothes and has a sophisticated sense of humour.
Why has nobody noticed how he oozes coolness? William Gibson would say, “He is hip.”
Originally published at blog.alexwaterhousehayward.com.