Monday, December 8, 2008

What Can Black Folk Really Expect From An Obama Presidency?

I was just reading a piece by Keith Boykin entitled, "Obama's Black Appointments." First thing I thought was wow, this guy is for real! Then, my mind turned to recent news story about gun sales and a visit to my daughters college. What, you might ask, does this have to do with Barack Obama?

First, the news piece talked about whites who were supposedly buying guns because they feared that they would lose the right to do so under an Obama presidency. Now, while this reason seemed legitimate enough, I personally think there are a whole lot of other fears associated with this behavior: fear of blacks taking over the country, fear of black reprisal for racism, fear of losing jobs, or fear that blacks will just run wild! Don't laugh, these fears are being baited by the likes of Rush Limbaugh and other conservative talk show hosts. The point is, although Obama has done a bang up job showing that a black president would not be a counter-revolutionary, left-wing, militant; there is still a lot of fear and doubt in the white community. And until that fear subsides and whites begin to use reason to evaluate his policies, not much will change.

I visited my daughter's college a few days ago and I must say, things have sure changed since I went to school--notably the dress. When I was in school, we [blacks] were trying very hard to emulate what we understood of the world of white business, both in the way we talked and dressed. I tell you, although the school is mixed, you couldn't tell the black students there from the average teen in the hood. So while I saw a lot of positives with black and white students co-existing together, I was a bit disappointed with the students dress, speech, and general disposition. I remember reading a book somewhere that talked about, "a development in college life." And to me, that what college is, a place to grow and develop and find and do new things with people from all walks of life. Young people, wake up, wise up, and work hard to work up. You've been asking for your chance and now you just might get it.

Barack On Key Issues
  • Barack Obama plans on saving the government $150 billion by eliminating tax cuts for people who don't need them.
  • Barack Obama supports affirmative action in colleges and government and would re-introduce the Equal Rights Amendment.
  • Barack Obama would ban racial profiling and eliminate disparities in sentencing. He would create a civil rights division to enforce laws fairly and justly. He has legislated to protect detainees during interrogation, and pushed an Illinois bill to videotape all capital interrogations.
  • Barack Obama would teach both abstinence and contraception to teens, ensure that all children learn about sexual abuse and expand flex-work and the Family and Medical Leave Act.
  • Supports universal health care for all Americans.

One theme that rings central to Obama's philosophies is that of personal responsibility. So, while we can expect Barack Obama to continue to carry himself with dignity and poise, continue to make record appointments to his cabinet, and steadfastly develop an economic plan that will bring far more minorities to the table than ever before, he cannot do THE most important thing to bring about change in your life--you're actually taking responsibility, taking control, and taking off.


Francis L. Holland Blog said...

Back in the day, I dressed preppy like white kids (to the minimal extent that I could afford to do it) in an attempt to be accepted by whitedom. (Maybe I just liked Alligator shirts, but why, exactly?) I knew I was going along culturally to get along!

Perhaps Black kids now don't feel such a duty or urgency to imitate whitedom in order to be accepted by whitedom. Or perhaps they've come to the conclusion that it is a waste of time; white people don't look at what Black people wear, they look at what color our skin is.

If we dress impeccably, they say we're "slick". If we dress with hoodies, they think we're gangsters, regardless of what grades we get.

And ultimately, white kids imitate whatever dress we adopt, except that they are not punished for it because, after all, they're skin is white. Look at white kids with the most ripped jeans and oldest converse sneakers at a liberal arts college, and you may be looking at the sons and daughters of the wealthiest families in the country. As soon as their first internship begins, they'll shed their ratty-ass clothes, but we Blacks will never be able to shed the skin that arouses so many whites' ideation, emotions and behavior.

I learned something when I was in college, and I taught it to my mentee who graduated from Harvard Law School recently: It doesn't matter what you wear in college, because what you wear does not contribute to your gradepoint average or your ability to get scholarships for grad school.

White people might find wearing braids "radical" and "ghettoish", but if it saves you two hours per day on hair care, and a hundred dollars per month that you can spend on books or studying in the library instead of working in food service, then wearing cornrow braids may be the most logical thing you can do for your college or graduate school education.

Any white person who can't identify with it can go . . . get his/her head examined to determine degree and self-destructiveness of their color-aroused ideation, emotion and behavior, be it benign, mild, moderate or extreme.