Nov 9, 2008
. . .it takes skill to be real, time to heal each other
And although it seems heaven sent
We ain't ready, to see a black President. . .
So legendary rapper Tupac Shakur lamented in his classic song "Changes" recorded during the mid-nineties, not too long before his untimely demise. Up until this year, I used to nod my head ruefully to that particular lyric, knowing that it was true. Little did Shakur know that a little more than a decade after he penned those pessimistic words, we as a nation would be ready to see a black president.
Now I know a lot of my good Republican friends were pretty disappointed by the outcome of this election. Some felt pretty strongly about the fate our country with Obama taking office—one friend even groaned on hearing the news: “Ohhhh, nooo. America is going down.”
Well, I suppose we’re all entitled to our political points of view, but I don’t think you have to be a Democrat to recognize that Obama’s election to the presidency is a step forward for our country. It is a remarkable fact that the highest office in the land is now held by a man who 45 years ago couldn’t drink from the same water fountain as a white man, and who, 145 years ago would likely have been considered someone’s property. From the slave quarters to the back of the bus to the White House...now that's what I call change!
Barack Obama’s election as the next president of the United States means a lot to me.I was deeply moved by Obama’s acceptance speech, particularly the part where he echoed Dr. Martin Luther King’s words from the speech he gave the night before he was killed when he said: “We may not get there this year or even in one term, but I’ve never had more hope that we will get there. We as a people will get there.”
I’m happy that Obama won, not just because I think he will be a great president, or because I happen to agree with many of his policy stances, but because of what his election represents to me as a black man, and to all of us as Americans. His election represents the most important kind of change in America--not the change of administration, not even the change Obama promised and his supporters expect, but a much larger change-- a change in what seemed possible for people of color in this country. This change is less about one man, and much more about a whole nation.
Does a President Obama mean that racism has or will disappear in America? No. Does it mean that magical winds of change will blow across the land, and across the globe bringing peace, prosperity, and brotherly love to all? Highly doubtful. But a President Obama does mean that we’ve made a fairly large step towards living up to our nation’s ideals. We don’t know whether Obama will turn out to be a great president, whether he will live up to the high hopes so many of placed in him. I would hope, however, that all of us, regardless our political persuasions would wish him well, and pray for his success as a leader. The times we live in are too serious to indulge hopes of being able to unleash a lot of partisan “I-told-you-so’s” four years from now. But I believe that regardless of what kind of president Obama turns out to be, our nation has gone a step up, not down, in electing him.
A Long Journey. . .