Children of abuse are often tough and defiant, because they cannot count on their parents. African Americans are the children of a motherland that has abused and rejected them, but on November 4, 2008 America said, "I can change."
On November 4, 2008, a man of African descent, Barack Hussein Obama, culminated a disciplined, creative, attention-to-detail, heavily-financed, hard-driven campaign, winning the improbable prize--the presidency of the United States of America. He went after it like a well trained, Steele-willed, mentally sophisticated athlete; but he got it because the people, red and yellow, black and white, rich and poor, educated and working class, gave it to him, and black Americans cried.
Since slavery, black Americans have challenged one another with the lofty idea that we can be anything we want to be, if we work hard, but we really don't believe it. In fact, we actually believe that, for us, ambition is dangerous, and all that we hope or do, must be tempered to avoid the wrath of racism. It is the opinion of many of us, that our uncompromising pursuit of our goals and aspirations, will lead to a Martin Luther King-like outcome. That is why we worried about Barack Obama, as he pursued the presidency.
But while we think we're fooling someone, the truth of our condition is so obvious until, even our young children don't believe us when we tell them that they can be anything that they want to be. They've figured out, without our help, that all is not equal in the land of liberty. That's why they're crying too.
During the primaries, a little girl in South Carolina told Michelle Obama, "Mrs. Obama, if your husband wins it is going to be history!" But when Michelle asked, "What does that mean to you?" she shook out tears repressed by the secret she'd been keeping, about her motherland. Finally, her body allowed the articulation of her new found hope, she haltingly said, "I can be anything I want to be."
After the election of America's first African American president, a young boy stood in his classroom, trying to say what the girl in South Carolina said, but his body could not release the words, so he slumped into his seat, comforted by pats on his back, administered by an understanding classmate.
Racism in America is not so right or wrong, or black or white, as we try to make it, and when Barack gave his race speech, he was trying to tell us that. He used the fact that his grandmother had not been transformed into a race-neutral being, simply because her daughter gave birth to a child of color, whom she loved. He wanted us to understand that, in judging Jeremiah Wright--who also loved him, yet still saw in today's America the virulent racism of his past.
Barack, through his multi-racial experience, got close enough to all of us to see that our racial misperceptions, can be overridden, by the truth of who we are . . . A notion, both races find difficult to believe. Particularly people of African descent, who are so bombarded by the stereotypes of racism until many of us believe that we cannot be seen.
I am an invisible man. No, I am not a spook like those who haunted Edgar Allan Poe; nor am I one of your Hollywood-movie ectoplasms. I am a man of substance, of flesh and bone, fiber and liquids - and I might even be said to possess a mind. I am invisible--understand?--simply because people refuse to see me.
So when Barack showed us, the truth that he knows, by winning the presidency of the United States of America, our hope surged up to confront attitudes borne of unfairness, indignities, refusals, rejections and a host of injustices, manifested in tears. Tears of relief, that our long struggle was not in vain. Tears of pride, in our country's capacity to change.
God Bless America . . .