A teacher friend of mine who’s incredibly passionate about her job, told me a story that – better than anything else I’ve heard or seen- illustrates what an Obama Presidency means to the black community. She told of several formerly problem kids who’d had no goals, no work ethic, kids who literally were planning to just collect welfare, who overnight became inspired to study – to try out for better programs, to strive for a real career…immediately after Obama won the election. ” I don’t care if he knows what he’s doing. To give them that…”at which point she seemed too moved to finish the sentence. I couldn’t agree with the “I don’t care if he knows what he’s doing” part, but I did come away from the conversation feeling like maybe electing a (partly) black President would, in itself, bring some positive changes. Not enough to make up for the drawbacks of this particular black President…but maybe more than I realized.
According to Rasmussen, the number of African Americans who thought they had a fair shot in life literally DOUBLED the day after Obama was elected. I have black friends who honestly thought Obama would lose because of racism. I privately thought that was nuts and, as a white chick, it’s easy for me to feel like they shouldn’t have needed Obama to win to believe America offered equal opportunity, but then I remember the chills that went up my spine when saw Sarah Palin was McCain’s choice of running mate-and I could hardly believe she was really the pick. I remember the lump in my throat when I heard the deafening welcome she received at the Republican National Convention. I didn’t expect to feel heartened by Rush Limbaugh’s full throated Palinmania or to respect him more as a result, but I did. It’s not like I was sitting around consciously thinking most of the GOP was sexist- but, before Sarah Palin, I wasn’t sure they weren’t. It hadn’t been tested. I can imagine that might be how a lot of black Americans felt before Obama. Though I get the impression racial identity cuts a lot deeper and is something that – from the outside- it’s probably close to impossible to fully understand.
Character, hard work and perseverence, faith in God- ideally that’s all you really need but it’s a lot easier if somebody has blazed a trail before you and that can propel you farther. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was an innovator of detective stories but he was enlarging on an idea of Edgar Allan Poe’s and later – quite clearly, he fed the imagination of Dame Christie. (Poirot is remarkably similar to Holmes in quite a lot of ways while still – of course- being unique). Practically all of modern art owes some homage to Picasso who opened up new territory and permanently changed the landscape. Likewise Whoopi Goldberg was once interviewed about Star Trek and said when they cast a black women she went running through the house saying “Mommy, mommy, there’s a black woman on t.v. and she ain’t no maid!” and she knew at that moment that she could be anything she wanted to be and do anything she wanted to do.
Bill Cosby stood on the shoulders of Dick Gregory. I was surprised to see Cosby included in a book of political comedians. “I didn’t know he did political comedy” He didn’t. Other black comedians talked constantly about race issues. It was expected. That was their niche. Cosby has the audacity to not to limit himself to that niche and he became a superstar. Not in spite of his race, and not because of it. Simply because he was **** funny. But he could do that because Dick Gregory had already broken the color barrier – so he could move past it. So why are we going backwards?
I wonder. Are these kids still feeling the same optimism and motivation that they felt the day Obama was elected? Is it unaffected by months of constant race baiting? When they’re hearing that townhall protesters are showing up carrying swastikas, when they’re told that those who don’t support Obamacare are opposing it because of racism ( especially when a solid majority oppose it – and it could easily shift to an overwhelming majority) when Diane Watson says people oppose Obama’s policies because they don’t want the “first President who looks like me” to succeed, what does that do to their newly formed conviction?
I’d like to think that it won’t matter. I hope that the impressionable young minority kids who were (literally) moved to change their lives will continue on their new and improved path. Hopefully they’ve already seen some rewards from their efforts: the satisfaction of accomplishment, praise of teachers and parents, ehanced self esteem, a new inherent interest in learning, etc., etc. I hope that’s the case, but it feels a lot like wishful thinking.
I’m reminded of the response of (at least some) members of the black community regarding Michael Steele. To them it didn’ t mean anything that he was chosen for the extremely important post of RNC chair. The jury was out until they saw how he was treated. So, it seems logical that the thinking would be about the same with regard to Obama’s Presidency and the message – loud and clear- is that Obama is being disrespected and held back because of his race.
Democrats want to present those who oppose Obamacare as a small, fringe group – but anyone who’s paid any attention has to know it’s a majority. So what is the message the MSM is really sending to black Americans? That America is deeply and inherently racist and the white folk want you to fail? Play the race card as much as you can and use it like a bludgeon? One thing is clear, they’re definitely sending the message that the color of one’s skin is really, really important.
I thought we were past that.