I’m gonna be honest right now. I’ve been a little torn as a black in America today—well, biracial to be exact (black and Mexican). I am very excited and happy for Barack Obama as our president-elect, but as someone who voted for McCain, I was a little saddened that he failed to secure the 270 electoral votes to claim victory for the presidency. All the same, I’ve been experiencing this strange feeling that I somehow am a traitor to African-Americans because I didn’t vote for Obama. Yes, history was made a few days ago when America voted in their first African-American president, shattering many of the racial barriers that have been experienced by blacks, but at the same time, I wasn’t going to vote for someone who did not have the same moral standards and ideals for the future as I do.
I feel that some people voted for Obama because he was African-American—and the argument can be made that some people voted for McCain because he was ‘white’, but somehow it’s different…even though I know it shouldn’t be. I have never really dealt with feelings like this before…and maybe it’s because I live in San Jose, California and not in a more racially charged state, city or town.
I have both friends and family who blame the ‘white man’ for their issues…I have both friends and family that believe that ‘blacks’ can’t get ahead because of the ‘white man.’ I can confidently say that I have witnessed and better yet, heard several dozens of people tell me and about their plight as an African-American in American society today, and how ‘blacks’ get the short end of the stick a majority of the time. But with Barack Obama now being voted in as president of the United States, what will become of their issues and views on life?
What women in recent years like Oprah and Condoleezza Rice have done for African-American women, Barack Obama has done for African-American men. Although I do not share the same views with my friends and family members stated above, I do believe that these people are now, more than ever, accountable and responsible for their own actions, success and views on life. Although I know the bigotry and racism still exist in America today, and that undoubtedly it will be experienced, there is no more saying that ‘blacks’ can’t make it to the top—for crying out loud…Barack Obama has made it to the ultimate top..he’s top dog.
I would be remiss in all of this if I did not say that not all African-Americans think like this nor have views on life like the above, though—so please don’t get offended and think that I am lumping all African-Americans into the same category. I know that there are hundreds of thousands of African Americans out there who are struggling through this just as I am.
I’m still sorting through all of this…and this is pretty much as far as I have gotten.
PS – Soon after getting these thoughts down on paper, I heard this great commentary on ‘Morning Edition’ on my local NPR station, 88.5FM (SF Bay Area). It’s good to know I’m not alone in thinking about the repercussions (both positive and negative) of Barack Obama being our president-elect, and how it will effect African-American society and myself for that matter.
November 7, 2008
Is Black America Ready For A Black President?
“Well, Obama was ready, willing and able to run for all of us. Are all of us ready for him?”
The response to the call of “Yes, we can” was the election of Barack Obama to the highest office in the land. It’s amazing when you figure that a whole lot of people who’ve never even had a black boss have proven ready for a person of color as president.
But as the euphoria of the night turns into a Vegas-style buffet of harsh realities, we have to ask: Though America seems ready for a black president, is Black America really ready for a black president?
Sounds a little strange, sure. Emotionally, obviously. But what about practically?
Obama ran as a post-racial candidate. During his campaign, he suggested replacing race-based affirmative action with measures weighted toward socioeconomic factors. He gave a Father’s Day speech encouraging black dads to be more engaged. And for his trouble, he was reward with an offer of castration from Jesse Jackson.
Which, as an aside, makes me wonder if on election night Jackson was crying tears of joy, or if he was getting misty-eyed because he knew his day was done?
Obama isn’t alone in inciting ire for extolling personal responsibility. Comedian Bill Cosby delivered his “Pound Cake” speech on the 50th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education and claimed that not all blacks were “holding up their end of the bargain.” In return, he was accused of being a race traitor. As if self-reliance equaled self-hatred.
Sorry, but not waiting for somebody else to get it done is a value that brought people of color up from slavery, through a failed Reconstruction and Jim Crow, to the shared experience of this past Tuesday.
The fear for some is that Obama’s election will start people thinking, “Hey, guess we can roll up the civil rights carpet.” Hardly. Let’s face it: There are gonna be bigots in America for the foreseeable future.
But the cry of the Old Schoolers that American is a racist nation begins to ring hollow. In the era of Obama — along with Oprah and Condoleezza Rice and Colin Powell and Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick and business executives Dick Parsons and Ken Chenault and on and on — are those who’ve made bank flogging the victim stick ready to quit talking about who needs to be cut where and start admitting that yes, we can?
There was a text message sent around before the election that read: “Rosa sat so Martin could march. Martin marched so Obama could run.”
Well, Obama was ready, willing and able to run for all of us. Are all of us ready for him?