Thursday, August 18, 2011

Martha's Vineyard: A Vacation Stop on the Black History Trail

Is anybody else getting tired of seeing and listening to some people in the mainstream media and GOP politics completely blow the story on the First Family going to Martha's Vineyard?

Rest-assured the President will be working everyday on the Vineyard on solutions to the economy and he will be briefed on the happenings of the U.S. men and women in uniform on the ground in Iraq, Afghanistan and in the Libyan sky and sea.

Like Presidents before him, Obama also will need this 10-day retreat to recharge his battery and reconnect with his wife and two young daughters, like most Americans do during their family vacations.

Congress, of course, is on its own five-week vacation, and one-fifth of the federal lawmakers are spending their not-so-hard-earned money on the beaches of Israel, where they are on a junket partially funded by the IsraelI lobby.

Now do not begrudge anyone an Israeli vacation. It is a beautiful country (I loved my stay there). Lets just hope Congress is thinking about the economy and wars while they are those foreign beaches.

Now, do rich people vacation and live on the Vineyard? Of couse. Are some of the wealthiest black? Absolutely. But there are still countless middle-class people, like my family, who save up and pitch-in to enjoy the beauty of the largest of the Elizabeth Islands. The same goes for African-American middle-class folks, who also scrape together money to hit South Beach and the Oak Bluffs cottages and Edgartown condos.

As Roland Laird writes on the website, The Grio:

"This relaxed, diverse African-American atmosphere is one of the Vineyard's biggest selling points. While on the Vineyard, you're just as likely to bump into a New York City office security guard as you are Spike Lee, and more importantly, you'd probably have a friendly conversation with both of them."

It is not by accident that Martha's Vineyard is a destination for African-Americans. The island has a painful-turned-beautiful narrative that has contributed as an essential part of three centuries of African-American history.

As my friend and colleague Jackie Calmes, who always gets the story right, points out at The New York Times Obama visited Martha's Vineyard for years before he entered the White House.

The sometimes aloof Barack Obama may have difficulty shaking off his elitist image, but have no doubt that he is completely in touch with the Vineyard's important black history dating back to slavery (and the hypocritical Puritans) and ultimately the desegregation that evolved on the island without laws or social engineering.

For enlightened Massachusetts natives, the Martha's Vineyard African-American experience is a source of great pride, and it helps us offset the images of the ugly Boston race riots during the start of busing in the 1970s.

Others, like the carpetbagger ex-Massachusetts governor, Mitt Romney, have not caught up with the history of Martha's Vineyard. They ignorantly take cheap shots at Obama over the vacation. What do you expect from Romney? His idea of Martha's Vineyard is the high-roller political fundraiser he is hosting there in a few weeks.

So people, do your homework and cut the Obamas some slack. You are embarrassing us.

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