Friday, August 22, 2008

Obama's Half-Brother George:
Dirt Poor But Richer Than Many Of Us

By western standards, the half-brother of Barack Obama is dirt poor. By character standards, he may be richer than many of us. His name is George Obama and he said he has expected nothing from Barack. He's studying to become a car mechanic and wants his big brother to win the White House.

This photo was a shocker when I saw it. It was meant to be, and the Italian version of Vanity Fair magazine's insert of Obama's photo into it was designed to make George look down on Barack, as though for abandoning him. He's pictured standing outside of his modest wood home - a shack by American standards - in Kenya. George has not described himself as an unhappy man, and as I study the picture without the usual class prejudice, I'll bet he can shoot some hoops with those graceful, long arms and could give Barack a good workout on the basketball court.

The two brothers met for the first time in their adult lives in 2006. George is now 26 years old, proud, literate, and independent. He likes living where he is. The smell of fried goat and other foods are in the air. An interviewer noticed the "odor of rubbish wafting in the street"; if George did, he didn't mention it, no more than we'd think to mention the intrusive sound of city traffic that is so familiar to us.

George Obama described why he likes living where he is. He said, "Here I am surrounded by friends and family and feel safe and secure."

There has been political violence not far away from his community where a half-dozen people where hacked to death. Despite this, he said, "Life in Huruma is good. In other places you must lock yourself in to keep yourself safe."

Think about that. Can't keep your doors unlocked like that in my neighborhood or any large American city, where violence is senseless or alcohol/drug-related. We turn it on ourselves, and so far, it's virtually never a form of political protest.

Despite living in poverty by our standards and maybe Kenyan standards too, he's put in enough study hours or got enough education to read Barack's book, Dreams From My Father. This is a feat that a number of American adults - black, white, and Latino couldn't do if their lives depended on it.

This is how George learned about their mutual father, who died in a car crash when George was six months old. His mother, Jael, lives in the U.S. and has helped support him. This tells us that between his brother Barack, who he didn't ask for help, and his mother, he could have gotten a VISA to come live here if had wanted to, but he didn't.

Yet the media is judgmental as hell. The haters over at Vanity Fair who print the Italian version of the magazine hunted down his half-brother in hopes of getting evidence that Barack is a Muslim, not a Christian. Then they could use it as ammo to sabotage his chance to win the Presidency.

This alone is an indictment against the bigoted corporate-backed, media agenda and the American mindset, where we've been brainwashed to be prejudiced against someone for their religion in a nation founded on freedom of worship, and to suspect that any Muslim harbors secret terroristic leanings.

George Obama was appalled when he read the media spin by the Italian version of Vanity Fair magazine.

In the 8/22 and most comprehensive recent intervi
ew that I found published in the Irish Times, he said that he's furious at reports he had been abandoned by the Obama family or that he "was filled with shame about living in a slum."

He explained the shame part like this: "If people ask about my name I tell them we are not related. The problem here is that people have expectations and think I would look after them."

I understand that. Folks would worry him day and night for money, thinking he was getting paid by his famous brother across the ocean, and then look at him like he was a liar.

The racist Right wants to make him their poster child and send him money, not out of any kindness, but as part of another media lynching of Barack that will make their Rev. Wright spin look like a campfire.

I see this issue as potentially the most destructive one so far for Obama's campaign.

One can talk or write about the horror of Obama's vote for FISA, his changing position on drilling in Alaska, and
moving center-right on some critical issues. One can do this until they're blue in the face and numb in the fingers, but still, most folks will get glassy-eyed and yawn.

What really eats at people is when one one family member has wealth to spare and another is living in a shack and seemingly abandoned. It hits on the core of our remaining decent values, that family should be there for one another, especially when it only costs them pennies.

Meeting a half-sibling for the first time when you're an adult is a weird experience for most people, even if they met for a fleeting moment as children. There's little or no connection there except the knowledge you two share the genes of a common parent. Some half-siblings have an instant or easy rapport, others never connect on a significant level.

Barack didn't grow up with any of his father's children in Africa. I wonder if George was too proud to ask, and Barack didn't want to embarrass him by offering, or maybe he did, and George politely refused it.

This issue is the one thing we can expect the McCain camp to exploit. I can't even say it would be racist if they did. Hell, if two men of the same race were running against each other for President, they'd target this juicy gossip and hope the voters, We the (Materialistic) People, would be incapable of believing that the impoverished sibling didn't want or ask for help.

George ain't stupid unless you consider pride and self-reliance to be proof of stupidity and can't believe he really likes where he lives. He just may, seeing as it's all he's ever known and values the people and the place. I won't rule out 100% that he's lying, but there are a lot of folks who enjoy a simple life and familiar surroundings.

He's also not illiterate as one might expect looking at the background in the photo. I can barely fathom what schools are like in his area. If he could read his brother's thick memoir, he could figure out how to milk this thing with a book deal, and undoubtedly has been approached.

He said, "It seems there are people who want to destroy me and my family. They say I live on a dollar a month but this is all lies by people who don't want my brother to win."

Obama's young half-brother isn't jealous or resentful of his brother's success. He doesn't live by the crabs in a barrel credo, where when one person does well or is looking too good, the others pull it back.

I've always wanted to meet Barack. I'd like to meet George too, because his spirit shows a generosity in addition to other admirable character traits.

Easy money is so tempting. I hope George Obama doesn't change his mind and take the bait that the hunters have set for him... and by extension, for us.


  1. Great post Kit. I wish I could have said it like that:)

    This is a great site you have here fam.

    Keep doing what you do.


  2. Great post!I wonder how the media is going to spin the " long lost desperate brother" story.

    I stop by occasionally to read your post this is my first comment. You are doing a great service to your readers.

  3. Thanks Field and Rena! It's been an unusually quiet day for comments, and I appreciate yours.

  4. One smear at a time.
    Hopefully, JoeB will get busy and begin bringing some reality to the McCain camapign. Puffy McBush needs to be exposed for the snide little vengeful prick that he is.

  5. I like the way you addressed how easy it is for us to blinded by materialism and think everyone in poor countries wants give up their family, friends, community and country to live here. What a great post!

  6. Where I come from, the best things that you can say about people are that they do the best they can with what they've got and that they've never taken a thing from anyone. Using that as a barometer (which I find useful), George is just as successful as his brother, maybe even more so.

  7. Laurel, thank you for sharing your experience growing up white and from West Virginia. I appreciate you compassion and understanding tht achievement should be measured in the context of where someone was born and what resources they had. In this sense, George may well have outdone his brother.

    Shelton, thank you. You're right. Comfort is nice but excessive materialism has made us so blind.

    Sagacious, we'll see how Biden works out. I like his personality and sharp wit.

  8. I think we can all learn something from George. Many of us have lost our way when it comes to what we really need, and can't tell a need from a want.

    Good post!

  9. I'm so tired of dealing with stuff like this. It's sad what people want to focus on and make a big deal. If McCain makes this a big deal, they need to go after him on his ex-wife. It has to happen.

  10. They can actually go after his wife Cindy. The media has kept real quiet about the real way her father got rich.

  11. Great post. And so true.

    When I first read this story, something about it didn't ring true for me, and now I recognize that many of the things that you said in your post are exactly why. The assumptions that people are making about this "story" are made purely with an American bias without any credence given to a totally different culture and mindset. It's sad. And a particularly disgusting depiction of who we are as a country.

  12. You've hit the nail on the head, La. When I read a story of importance, I dig through all the stories I can find about it. I consider the actual quotes from people, and available concrete facts like who actually did what first and the geography of the place. I think of even minor things, like the weather, season, and of course, culture. Then I filter out the perception of the authors that is their opinion or conclusion, or may be an outright spin.

    Reporters or their editors often ignore what people actually say. They report quotes but out of context or they don't give the full view or respect to the view of the person telling it.

    They either can't understand or won't accept the way another group thinks, and they fill the news with garbage ideas and agendas. This is particularly true if there's a cultural or racial difference between the reporter and the reported.

    This is true not only in understanding the news, but in providing therapy or dealing with people too. I've learned to watch, listen, and read with a third eye and ear.

  13. Write long enough, and you start to see all the tricks other writers use to make you believe what they have to say is authentic.

    I didn't really listen to the reporter, or read the story - the "country mouse" shtick is as old as storytelling itself - but what I did notice, seeing him on TV, was the remarkable resemblance he and Barack have, all the way down to the bone structure of his skull, the cant of his nose, and the shape of his head.

    The thing that happened to Billy Carter was he could never just be himself again. I hope the people around George leave him alone so he can get back to his life.

  14. If only everyone had a brother like George.

  15. Like brown man said, here's hoping this man gets left alone.

    So far i haven't seen Obama's brother become a big story, but it may well become one in that other way we have now, mass emails. Those seem to have a lot of traction among people I know, like the ones claiming that, horror of horrors, "Obama's a Muslim!"

    I don't have much faith in that flapjaw Biden, who pushed hard for the bankruptcy bill and does all sorts of genuflecting to big finance, which uses his home state of Delaware as a shelter of sorts. But Biden's aura of "experience" will probably help get Obama elected, and then we'll all get the lesser of two evils (having been subjected once more to the evil of two lessers--how mch better it would be if Cynthia McKinney were a viable candidate).

  16. Completely agree with Macon D. Thanks KIT for another great post and insightful comments.
    I also agree that George Obama is the richest of us that continue to live/see through Materialistic/Consume-Consume-Consume-is-the-Road-to-Happiness lens.

    On a side note: Why do you think Cynthia is putting her hat in? Having organized with her VP, I know they are definitely tugging on the heart strings of young, conscious citizens in the Big Apple and the West Coast as well. It almost leaves me wondering if the "blue state" of NYC will turn green this year?

    Living in Brazil and watching all of this from afar, I am really surprised cause here folks have sort of embraced Obama as the new president already. There is an ad going around in Salvador, Bahia with just Obama's face and the slogan Power has Changed.

    Makes me wonder how much power would really change is McKinney were on the ticket for real!!! And how dope it would be to see Cynthia's face with the same words...

  17. Claudia, I'm a news junkie, but surprised as heck that you're saying McKinney is popular in Brazil. I should read their newspapers.

    I have not seen a single broadcast news report about Cynthia McKinney this year. The mainstream news media, including print, has made her invisible. She's like a ghost candidate in US politics thanks to a highly effective smear campaign when she became the first politician to question 9/11 back in early 2002.

    Her many enemies helped run her out of office by super-funding her opponents campaign, but she won her seat back later and file Articles of Impeachment against GWB & company in 2006.

    She's also near-invisible on the overwhelming majority of liberal alternative news sites, including the Huffington Post. In the week she was nominated for the Green Party, I couldn't find a single story by them, and was both amazed and disappointed.

    This was surprising, b/c she didn't do badly in the primaries for an 'unknown'. Here, she's been driven into obscurity.

    Nor have I found much written about her by black bloggers.

    The best site for keeping abreast of her progress is (BAR)and previous issues at (BC).

    This is b/c Glen Ford, the main founder of both sites, left BC around 2006. There's a current article about her this week in BAR.

    You can do an advanced Google for both sites and type in her name to find previous articles about her.

    Cindy Sheehan endorsed McKinney this week. You'll also find this this article interesting.

    Cindy Sheehan's Hotel Room Phone Bugged

  18. Wow Kit, it sounds like George is a republican. Let them tell it, they ask for nothing, nor accept any handouts.

  19. Hmmm. Maybe George Obama should be McCain's VP pick...

  20. He couldn't be. He was never runner-up in a beauty contest. [/snark]

  21. LOL. That's funny. Maybe it's not too late to get his pic on a Wheaties cereal box.

  22. CTFU...

    The thought of George being McCaind VP pick is funny but not too far fetched. But hey, he's already thrown one Hail Mary pass. He might as well hire George to be his special ambassador to Black America. Surely George would be able to mend some fences.

  23. *smiling* I'd just like to see them play basketball together...


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