In 2008, the most idealistic generation, those born in the 50's. who came to
see life through the lens of the 60's, thought they had finally grown up when
they knew they were going to be voting for either the first Woman or Black
President of the United States.
White and aging John McCain's election hopes had about as much chance as
surviving, as that poor Turkey that was placed head first in the meat grinder
during one of Sarah Palin's live press conferences.
The majority of Americans didn't vote for the President because he was Black
...but more importantly they didn't choose "not to vote" for him because he
White America turned on to Barack Obama the way they had tuned in to watch
Bill Cosby every Thursday night.
Progressives loved the fact that he was Black...less a reflection on who he was
and more of a proud moment on what they wanted our nation to become.
The Baby-Boomers thought they were choosing a "Black President", that embodied
the oratory of MLK, the vision of JFK and the charisma of RFK, but four years
later as the President is about to take his second inauguration, instead of
getting a firebrand like Samuel L. Jackson... they got four years of Vanilla Ice.
Since he had a beer in the backyard at a picnic table at the White House to explain
why his mother was afraid to get into an elevator with a Black Man, we are hardly
ever reminded that he is a "Black President". Except when the racist Tea Party
or wacko Birthers accuse him of being the President of Food Stamps or born in
Kenya with a Black half-brother that is dumber than Billy Carter.
Unlike Aurora or Sandy Hook, where he was the Father of a Nation grieving for all
parents who have lost a child before their time...there was a brief moment during
the Treyvon Martin tragedy where we saw what is was like to be the Black father of
a son with a hoodie...and in large part, because of the President, we were "all" able
to understand that pain!
Yes, he is the President of "All the People", and no one wants him to put on a glove,
make a fist and raise his left hand in the air while standing behind the podium, but
if the point of electing a Black President...is to "forget that he is Black", then how
do we learn to celebrate our differences instead of living in fear of them.
If our next President is Jewish, would I be wrong to expect that he might speak to
the fact that the Holocaust lesson of "Never Again", has already happened time and
again. That a Catholic President might struggle between what is the law of the land
and what is in his religious heart, or that a Woman President might be much more
non-negotiable on equal pay and women's rights then the ten middle aged white men
released in a recent White House photo of the President's inner circle.
No one should be judged or be prejudiced based on their race, creed or color, but
is it fair to judge someone on their passion for issues that may have derived from
the very essence of who they are?!
This President promised to start a conversation about race...even though it had
already been started for him by those that have tried to define him!
But how can this Presidency be the start of a conversation about race, if he runs
away from talking about the consequences of racism?
If he allows his own missed opportunity to shine the light on the disproportionate
number of Black People who fight our wars, populate our prisons, depend on
government services and who live in single parent homes, then he deprives all of
us of having a conversation about ourselves.
He cannot take the easy road by only highlighting a minority's great accomplishments
in order to bridge the gap of a racial divide, but he must put in perspective and help
us distinguish between what is overcoming a genuine obstacle on one person's road
to personal triumph and contentious forms of hatred that impose undue burdens that
stand in our way.
He cannot afford to be afraid to address the obstacles of being Black in America
because he is afraid to be a Black President. His greatest contribution cannot be
that he was elected... but what he accomplished for Black people...as well as the
If the President had served only one term...Bill Clinton would still be considered the
best Black President!
By acknowledging and recognizing the problems unique to his own origins, than he gives permission for all of us to try to solve all problems that are based on race, creed or color.
As he puts his hand on the Bible to begin his second term in office, if Barack does not
become the "New Black" ...than his legacy will be overshadowed by what he could have done...instead of what he will do!