Obama and Generation Jones

I’ve never heard of Generation Jones — the generation between the Boomers and Gen X — until recently. Generation Jones is presumably named such because they (we) are a generation of Jonesers. We yearn for things. This, I identify with. We were too young to participate in the summer of love, the Vietnam War, or any of the defining events of the Baby Boom generation.

I’m not sure how I feel about the very existence of a Generation Jones. I’ve identified as a Gen-Xer ever since I read the book Generation X by Douglas Coupland. Some accounts of generations have me dated as a Boomer, but that’s hardly true for me. For some people, the defining character of Gen X is its pessimism, something I most certainly relate to. Douglas Coupland talks about the pessimism born of hopelessness for people who grew up in the time of the nuclear arms race.

But Generation Jones is supposed to be a “hopeful” generation. This has been all the hype, particularly in association with Obama, who is supposedly a member, and the hopefulness of Jonsing apparently played a role in the 2008 election. Obama is my age. He ran on a post-Boomer ticket. It’s one of the things that I liked about him. I also like the way he dealt with race without the burdens of identity politics. Cornel West did not. Jesse Jackson did not. Maybe it’s because I’m white, but I’m hoping Obama will usher in a new paradigm about race, by which I don’t mean post-racialism, but something completely different. And last, I do identify with the hopefulness of a new leader, so perhaps I am Generation Jones after all. But I like to think that Gen Xers are a hopeful lot as well.

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  2 comments for “Obama and Generation Jones

  1. Anonymous
    November 9, 2008 at 7:34 pm

    Interesting, I share your puzzlement on Gen X vs Jones… but I think there’s a big difference between cynicism and skepticism. As for Obama’s “post-race identity politics” I’m profoundly skeptical (surprise). If anything, he symbolizes the conservative race narrative, a Horatio Algier success that completely subverts institutional racism and white privilige with tokenism. As Josh notes on his blog, Obama misdirects the “angry Black man” stereotype and the very real social injustices behind the anger.

    ~Shaun

  2. ~LS~
    November 9, 2008 at 8:16 pm

    Eh, I guess I have to read Joshie’s blog. I mean, you’re suggesting that Obama is a token. I’m not sure I agree with that. Also, I’m not sure that someone who doesn’t take the “angry ethic” route is a token or is misdirecting social injustice. It seems like you’re putting Obama in a double bind of being either a token or an angry black man. Post-identity politics has got to open up the array of choices here for him. I have to reflect on this.

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