What is a Visionist?

"A visionist is an artist, a creator or an individual that sees beyond what is visible to the eyes and brains of human beings. Visionists are thinkers, they are the recognisable brains in soociety, but most times they are seen as absurd, "nerds" and misfits – they just don't fit into the societies. They are people with great dreams and minds."

The English Wikipedia

Sunday, January 18, 2009

From MLK to Milk

We are about to celebrate Martin Luther King's birthday, and one wonders if he would ever imagine that beyond all of the enormous things he did for this country, Black , White, Hispanic, Asian Americans, Native Americans, Hawaiians and Alaskans, he would have also provided the happy coincidence of being born on the day before the day each four years that America inaugurates its new President and that one day an African American would be sworn in as President of the United States of America. I use the long version of the name, because I noticed that throughout the campaign, Barack Obama always did, never defaulting to the shortcut version of simply the "United States." Curious that.
American politics has become increasingly over the years about identity. racial, ethnic or national background, gender, religion and sexual preference. World politics also has speeded up and been brought more closely together by the forces of Globalization. It has been labeled on the broadest scale as a "Clash of Civilizations," one of the many big concepts brought to us by Samuel Huntington, a great thinker, a bit conservative for my tastes, whom we lost over the Christmas holidays (more on Sam Huntington at a later time).
On the purely domestic front, however, this presidential election is obviously a huge breakthrough in America's relentless march towards becoming a truly multicultural society. We could almost as easily have seen these past elections as the big breakthrough towards gender equality, if Hillary had only gotten a few more votes, here and there. But the women's movement has come a long way since the 1960s and we can easily imagine today that tomorrow's president could easily be a woman. One of the interesting twists about Obama's campaign and the significance of race, is that he was campaigning on the argument that race did not matter, not that it was time for a Black man to be President. If he had run as a Black candidate, we know how far that would have gone. Being half and half, Obama was comfortable in that role, even if our society tends to consider anyone with visible Black features as Black. In other countries, like Brazil, Obama might have been considered a mulatto (he has called himself "a mutt," a term not at all used as a pejorative there, and where the merging of races, once called "miscegination," has been offically celebrated on the national currency. Although there are a lot more women in this country than there are African Americans, and more women than men, it is just that the race breakthrough came first, because the wound of slavery was and has been more severe.
So now that we are past (and, thereby, post-) racial and gender bias (well, not totally obviously, but perhaps we are over the hump), it is time to confront the big issue of identity equality that we face, and that is of sexual preference equality. We need to get to the point where everyone in this country could just as easily say that the country could elect a Gay President. The Sean Penn movie Milk, about Harvey Milk, the first openly gay politician in this country really hammered home for me this issue. That movie brought to the fore, for me as well, our capacity to intellectually accept the right to equal treatment and opportunity of the gay and lesbian community, based on the acceptance that being gay or lesbian is a matter of nature and not one of either choice, deviance or natural abnormality. But it also brought forth the deep seated feelings we are socialized into that makes straight people feel uncomfortable seeing men or women kissing each other in public (or even holding hands as I experienced this weekend at a jazz concert). I emailed my friend Rabbi Steve Einstein, and he sent me back immediately a sermon he has written about this issue which gave me a good assurance that at least the Jewish religion has come down firmly on the side of gay rights. We now have a little fun when someone points out that so-and-so is gay, especially our TV personalities. New Year's eve conversation watching Anderson Cooper celebrating New Years at Times Square: "He's the son of Gloria Vanderbilt. So handsome. Did you know he's gay?" someone commented. "Noooo!" was the general response. "Not that there is anything wrong with it" was the follow up.
I have great hope about the sexual preference issue as I do about all the other identity equality issues: the Millennial Generation does not care about any of these distinctions. Our kids are growing up to see the world as just a bunch of fello human beings. OK, my kids live in New York City in the Brooklyn-based arts and media environment where it may be easier to accept all this. But many of our schools today are like little United Nations, and the kids there, who all look different, all TALK the same language and in the same way. They are products of a highly integrated and globalized society. They get it. About half of my kids friends, including former and present roommates, are gay. That is also something spectacular. Where men and women used to have to go to gay bars and live in rather separate communities, the Millennials are just one big happy family. If you don't believe me now, just wait. All these issues of "Don't ask, don't tell" or a gay governor feeling he has to resign from office are just passe. America, get over it!
No this article has nothing to do with milk bottles. Well, Ed, Irv and Linda, I did think a little of your Dad, may he rest in peace, when I put the picture in the posting.

1 comment:

  1. Lindos sentimentos, muito humanos, muito egalitários, muito 'Daniel Strasser'! LW