I had been kinda holding in my less popular political views for some time now – particularly those that pertain to people of color. (I have a tremendous amount of respect for Bill Cosby and his accomplishments. I think his indictment of Black fathers and whether our priorities as they pertain to education are probably the right message, but delivered in the wrong forum.) I received an e-mail recently that sent me over the top. In the e-mail were several animated images (GIFs) of popular Black actors dancing. These are actors that you might see in sitcoms (George Jefferson from The Jeffersons, Carlton from Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Whitney Houston had one from one of the many embarrassing moments in Being Bobby Brown.) The subtext of the e-mail was that it was time to sing and shout because, “Obama got the ticket”. (Meaning that he’s become the apparent Democratic candidate.) And that was all I could take.
Please don’t misunderstand my sentiment. I’ve been a fan of Senator Obama since reading a story about his life in a men’s magazine (it was either GQ or Men’s Health) a few years before the John Kerry endorsement speech. And then when I heard him speak at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, I thought, “Whoa. This is the guy who I might be able to get behind! Let me stay tuned!”
Since that moment where he spoke so passionately at the DNC four years ago, he’s had a similar impact on many other people. My dear friend at work (who happens to be of Korean descent) and I talk all the time during our much treasured lunches about the fact that he’s peaked our interest. Very early in January, before Obama-mania hit, he went to a rally to hear more about his policies and where he stands on certain issues. And despite my respect for Senator Clinton (although that respect has been tested over the past few months), I felt that Senator Obama represents a segment of the country who hasn’t been heard. He represents a compassionate way of dealing with the problems that we’ve inherited.
All that said, please understand: I’m a huge Barack Obama fan and I anxiously look forward to his career, whether or not he becomes President of these United States.
So what’s so unsettling about this e-mail?
In a large part, I think it represents an apathy on the part of my people (people of color.) Now, I do love my people and I have a tremendous amount of pride about where we’ve been and our road to citizenship in this country – including the part that it has played in allowing people from other ethnic backgrounds who are also dark in complexion to participate in our freedom. But I’m starting to reconsider whether Bill Cosby’s tactics, as mean-spirited and as accusatory as they may have appeared, might not have been right on time (as Michael Eric Dyson debated in his book.) The truth is that our priorities are completely in disarray. I’m including myself in this indictment. We often complain about not being business owners of the restaurants that we patronize or the business in which we shop, but we don’t seek the power through business ownership ourselves.