He being Black seems like the simple answer but that only explains the admiration I have for the man. His suaveness, coolness, ‘amazing grace-ness’? Nope, again that pertains to his Blackness, our closeness. The given. So what is it? This love that’s almost an obsession. Tears rolled down my cheeks when I witnessed him walk onto that campaign stage in Bridgeport CT…
So let’s begin in the 60’s, Civil Rights. The most tumultuous period striving for rights in this nation and a turning point for Blacks as they had choices to fulfill their needs. The doctrine of civil obedience directed by Martin Luther King Jr. The armed and dangerous sect of the Black Panther Party or the militant do for self, no help, faction lead by the Honorable Elijah Muhammad and his pupil Malcolm X. All desiring a common goal of equality under the law. Each providing an outlet and a goal for any personality that had been affected by Jim Crow. No more excuses. Make a choice. And as a result, this decade saw the biggest change for Blacks in this nation’s history. Brown v Board, Thurgood Marshall, voter registration, but more importantly, the world was watching and took note and action that led to a quest for rights and freedom throughout the globe. Czechoslovakia, China, Nigeria (Biafra) and parts of the Middle East studied and adapted the ways of these dark-skin fighters in America, furthering their own agendas and demanding rights which were finally forced to be given.
MLK, The BPP and Malcolm X were no more. Defeated by the imperial racists ideals that gave birth to America and the characters who were not yet set on integration. But left simmering were many Whites who had joined the movement and were compelled to see it through to its end ‘by any means necessary.’ The bloodshed, the violence, the Pettus Bridge, the german shepherds, the Viola Liuzzos, took place in front of America’s eyes. They witnessed these atrocities and those with hearts and minds and spirits and souls who had joined the cause and felt the pain of the demise of The Civil Rights Movement decided:
Enough was enough…
The deaths of these organizations, The Movement, left a broken nation. A guilty nation. You can’t continue fighting someone who’s unwilling to fight back. Who is defeated and has accepted their loss. And this was the state of Black America, wanderers in a wilderness with no food, shelter or clothing, willing to die. Willing to be absorbed into fate.
And this was the 70’s. The laws enacted through the efforts of the Civil Rights Movement were now being administered. There was a compassion from the government to at least try to give notice towards Black Americans. Guilt tends to lead to appeasement and a defeated race of people were just happy to receive crumbs to survive. The fight of the 60’s was replaced with the nothingness of the 70’s.
And this fostered a generation, my generation, of Black kids sheltered from the battles of the past decade. There was no continuation, no flame passed to light the torch of equality. Our parents, knowing the pain, just wanted the best for their children. Not the murders, the marching, the singing nor the heartbreak of the 60’s. And combined with efforts of a government happy to be rid of the past, the eagerness for peace swept the nation.
So I and my friends grew up in this era, sheltered from the ills and able to develop a ‘non-hatred’ for the powers that oppressed. We thrived and developed identities that weren’t thwarted by ‘white only’ signs and legal segregation. In other words, we were uninhibited in our development with second class citizen-ism and able to forge our own paths and futures with an inherited belief of true equality. It wasn’t that we thought we were better than Whites or Whites aren’t better than us, we just knew how good we were individually. No comparisons. We do what we do and you do what you do. No threats. No disrespect.
And this, I can only assume, was the same thinking as my White counterparts. Like my parents, theirs were also tired from the 60’s. So they rested in upholding any evil they may have passed on to their children or they were just straight up relieved that this nation can finally move forward – together.
So here we became, the children of the 60’s, developed with an inner pride and bread to be the best we can be, finally meeting, finally faced with answering the question, which direction our nation will take? And as adolescents, pre-teens, developing equal, the only stalemates became, best grades, best athlete, best cuteness and best person. Uninhibited, being liked for who you are or who you will be.
Kids aren’t racist, they’re who their parents are…
But yes, racism still existed. A nation still simmering from the 60’s had to be, but it was more of a novelty. More of a ruse by kids who couldn’t match up to ‘best person’ using a tactic to tear down instead of building themselves up. But kids learn quickly, if I can cheat off a Black person and get an A, I’m going to cheat off of this Black person and get an A. If this White person is good enough to help me win this game, then I’m going to choose this White person and win this game. We each wanted to be the best and surround ourselves with the best.
And this is how my generation dealt with racism. I look back at my high school years, 80% White, and how many friendships I developed. And how as a result I can never say all White people are devils or get mixed up in a doctrine that preaches this. And yes, as I’ve matured and learned my Black history and the pain it caused, I’ve been tempted to paint evil Caucasian but I can’t, I know too many good White people to do so.
And this is what Barack’s victory means to me. It’s proof that as I’ve been touched with my development not to generalized hatred, so have my White counterparts. The voting booth is the most intimate place a person can be. More so than a bedroom or with family for in the former, your decision can be tainted with an effort to please your other half, and with family, decisions can be made to keep peace. But in that booth, you’re only battling yourself, your core beliefs and in 2007 for the first time, Race was injected in that choice. And without the White vote, Obama could not have won. But the Race factor, oddly but greatly, became a byproduct and a sense of pride to elect, in America, it’s first African-American President and be a part of history. Obama was elected because of his charisma, intelligence and his vision of hope and change for America. His qualities are what sealed the deal and in my opinion, there was a sense of pride not just in African-American voters but White voters that said, ‘look what this country has been through now look what we have become…’
And that’s what I envisioned that election night, all my friends of all races, comfortable enough to cast aside years, generations, of differences and put their trust and belief into someone of color who will lead this nation into the future.
When Jackie Robinson became the first African-American player in the major league, his owner Branch Rickey instructed him not to fight back against the onslaught of racism he was about to receive. And that condition was precisely the reason he was chosen. He wasn’t the best Black player, in fact, he didn’t even make the negro league all-star team. But knowing that no matter how high his achievements, the only memorable exchanges from his rookie season would be the anger and resentment he displayed against racism, Jackie stayed quiet against the slurs, teammates refusing to play with him, opposing players trying to hurt him, black cats thrown onto the field and a loneliness he must have felt. He did this with an understanding of the stakes and his efforts will produce an onslaught of other Black players into the league. Which it did.
Paralleling President Obama, to be the nations first Black President carried no precedent. The most powerful person in the world!? He had to tread lightly. Many Blacks wanted him to, right off the bat, give reparations and equalize the past 250 years of injustice while the capitalists were watching to see if he would ‘rock the boat’ of class status. He knew too well both sides and had to constantly balance each other’s needs. But first, he had to prove that a Black person was capable of this task. His detractors can hate his policies, hate his decisions and hate his actions but his leadership must be bar none. Dignified with grace¸ class, confidence, intelligence and scandal free. And on that front, he succeeded admirably.
There’s a demographic shift happening in America. Predicted by 2050, White people will be the minority in this country. And most experts suggest quicker with the influx of refugees not factored into the equation. So again, that fine line had to be balanced, and the polarity of his presidency was viewed as a precursor of the future, a vision embraced by Blacks and abhorred by rebellious Whites. Although, in essence, it’s class distinction combined with a shift from capitalistic guidance to social conscious, Obama became the face of this revision, a face that was Black, the ultimate antithesis to their superiority and:
They were not ready to relinquish their entitlement…
So who would protect their rights? Who’s bold enough to acknowledge this shift? Whose policies would not just halt this demographic shift but reverse it? Who can make America great again?
So now you have a nation whose soul is at stake. Social consciousness or capitalism. But actually 3, racism. A social agenda has never been in the forefront of this nation. A few crumbs here and there but even then, the programs were corporate or government ran and had an underlying imperialistic aspect to them. America was built on making money and through history, its entire design held true to that journey. From slavery to the industrial rise of manufacturing, through the world wars and all the way until present day. And at the root of this journey was racism. It being a centerpiece to the American Dream. So that racism, even with the election of Obama, was still present. Simmering, and it boiled over with his success. And he became the face of what’s thwarting that superiority complex. Trump stroked those fears, those angers and those racist sparks, erupting a brush fire that lead to his election. And change is never easy, never accepted without argument and to change a system designed and maintained since its inception in 1776, many were not yet ready. And they fought back in record numbers. Trump is an example of the parasitic, capitalistic, racist soul of America that has existed as long as its host.
But if evolution continues to serve well, the demise of this type of thinking and action will be stamped away. Maybe not totally but at least to the point of irrelevance. It’s evident with Barack’s election and the backlash that this administration has seen. When backed into a corner, any animal will fight its hardest to survive. Fight to the death, and that’s how I view this era in time. My advice is to be diligent but be patient. Be understanding yet resilient. Be hopeful, optimistic, consistent and unyielding. It’s the good people that voted for Barack, Black and White, that understand the future and are embracing this change. Welcoming the ideals and ideas that all walks of life can bring to America to truly Make America Great (Again).
Yes We Can.