First, congratulations to President Obama. Yet, I am sitting watching the election results, feeling a bit “blah.” I see folk on social media talking about shedding tears of joy and cheering. I watch the pandemonium on the television. Yet, I don’t feel any of that emotion. I remember that emotion. I felt it after I voted for President Obama in 2008. I felt in when myself, an ex-wife and two small children (ages 4 & 5) rode to Ohio on a bus and knocked on doors throughout the state for Barack Obama.
I felt the joy when, as an Alternate Delegate to the Republican National Convention in 2008, I was asked what it was like to be a Black man supporting John McCain, when Barack Obama was running on the other side. I told the NBC reporter, “I am no supporting McCain! There is far more to inspire my children – Omari Jahi, Ajani Omar, and Khalil-Lullah – to participate in the advancement of our Country by the election of Barack Hussein Obama, than electing John McCain (or, Bill Clinton) could ever accomplish.”
But, this time…I don’t feel the joy. And, when I mentioned that $6 BILLION has been spent this election cycle in order to maintain the status quo, a friend tells me that I should simply “enjoy the moment.” I couldn’t help but ponder: why should I enjoy this? What did we gain, besides the satisfaction of re-electing a Black man? Yet because I’m not caught up in the euphoria of the moment, people are accusing me of self-hate and hating Black people! Wow…that’s laughable.
Don’t get me wrong – I couldn’t vote for Mitt Romney…couldn’t vote for the present iteration of the Republican Party. The GOP might still (unfortunately) be “old,” but it’s certainly no longer “Grand!” It’s small-minded and petty…blinded by hate that has all but rendered it irrelevant.
Nevertheless, I definitely have my differences with President Obama.
His foreign policy is more hawkish than George W. Bush. See here and here and here. The President has authorized the domestic use of drones as part of the “War on Drugs.” Rather than ending the “New Jim Crown,” Barack Obama is devising ways to strengthen it. When it comes to the plight of Black and Brown people, the President has done his best (at least in his first term) to prove to White society that he’s not about to upset the established social order.
As I stated in “The Conundrum of Blackness and Voting When the President is Black,” President Obama says nothing of his plans to deal with economic and societal disparities that diverge on the basis of race. Rather, President Obama (and his advisers) still want Blacks to believe that a “rising tide lifts all boats.” The funny thing is that while Black Americans never accepted President Reagan’s “trickle-down economic theory,” Black people accept the same “trickle-down” ideology when it comes from the mouth of a Black man.
So, I ask again…what moment am I supposed to be enjoying?
But, now that Barack Obama has won a second term maybe we can hope for some action on racial disparities and income inequality. Now that President Obama doesn’t have to worry about his poll numbers for the upcoming election, maybe he will now be courageous enough to bring about the change that will ensure equal opportunity so that everyone has a fair shot at creating the outcomes that are possible in this great Nation.
Now that Barack Obama has won a second term, maybe we can hope for some change in the justice system so that it no longer preys on the poor, the Black and the Brown. Maybe he might muster the courage to dismantle the New Jim Crow and the system of Mass Incarceration that profits off the poor and disinherited.
I cannot enjoy the moment because so many in this Country suffer. I cannot enjoy this moment because so many across the globe suffer. I cannot enjoy this moment because I’d rather be vigilant. Rather than be fooled again, I choose to keep my eyes on the prize and press on!
Rather than be swept away by the euphoria of the moment, I hope now that Barack Obama has won a second term he might be the transcendent President he (and we) made himself to be. American truly needs great leadership and I believe (with my 2008 vote) that he can do it. But, the version of Barack Obama we witnessed in his first term was not the Barack Obama I envisioned. The Barack Obama we witnessed was a politician as usual.
I don’t expect him to be a Black President. He never could be. But, I did expect that his Blackness would help him to understand how the structures of America needed to change so that it could be inclusive to all people – foreign and domestic. I did hope that his “non-Whiteness” would give us the opportunity to have a President who would shake the stigma of Government for “some” people. But, four years later the scene is still a dog-eat-dog, mud-slinging, slugfest. Such a shame…such a wasted opportunity.
Maybe now that Barack Obama has won a second term he will understand that he is free to be the man he was created to be. Maybe he can be a man worthy of all the laud and honor. Maybe now he can usher in the culmination of the Civil Rights movement and post-Racial America that had heretofore been prematurely declared.
I cannot enjoy this moment because if Barack Obama, himself, doesn’t reclaim his own hope and embody his own change, all this moment will be is just that – a moment in history.