Post-Election Cautious Optimism
I’ve been intentionally keeping mum about recent events to avoid committing myself to any recorded morning-after-”I-Love-You”‘s with America instead of continuing to watch my back. I’ve been a big patriot for the past few years now, but I can’t be online acting all Happy Negro and playing myself. After the historical events of last week, little has changed as far as my high regard for this wonderful American experiment. None of us will ever forget where we were when we heard that Barack Obama won the election; aside from its historical significance and the clear referendum from the American people that it was time for change, I really did not know what we were going to do if McCain had won. I don’t mean riots, I mean more like Children of Men-esque deep desperation and despair cutting to the core and spreading worldwide. Instead, I danced my way through November 4th, hugging and high-fiving everyone from strangers to enemies and even participating in an impromptu Electric Slide down Broad St for a few minutes. You know how colored folk do. It all brought to mind a story that’s been passed down in my family for generations: When one of my great-great-great cousins heard that the slaves were free, he shouted and jumped for joy, ran out of the house in jubilation, and was never seen again. That is off the hook happiness. Of course, like anything else, mine is finally starting to wane.
I’m always cautiously optimistic about life so I can’t help but be bothered by a few things. One potential irritant is the idea that black folks will suddenly start acting right because we have a black president. Just today I was at Ross Dress For Less and some African lady was all heated because she was being accused of having cut the line. The black cashier said to anyone listening “We got a black president and this mess is still goin’ on?!” Score one for black oblivion. Meanwhile, the Black History Month e-mail list at work struck again, when I got an online coupon for Popeye’s chicken in my Inbox. I’m also worried about elaborate Kwanzaa celebrations at the White House, white people saying they’re not racist because they voted for Obama, and the fluctuating fuzziness of Malia and Sasha’s hair becoming a topic of conversation in the mainstream media. It also occurred to me that we’ve gotten really comfy-cozy with the one drop rule, because I haven’t heard a single person praise the historical significance of the U.S.A. having elected its first biracial president, only the the first black president. Even the racists call him “colored” or “nigra” but never mulatto. Why is that?
And why exactly is it that black people keep congratulating each other? Many of us had a personal stake in this election as volunteers or donors, so yes, in that sense congratulations are in order. But really, when black folks congratulate other black folks about the fact that we now have a black president, isn’t that just saying “Congratulations that white people aren’t as racist as they used to be!”? In fact, shouldn’t white people be the ones patting themselves on the back about how far they’ve come over the past four-hundred years? Because as much as being qualified is a huge part of becoming president, that office has been held by some pretty dim bulbs and I can think of any number of black leaders who would have been qualified to hold that office except for the fact that they’re just too black.
My patience for politics is rather short; I first voted in the year 2000′s sham of an election and haven’t trusted in the process or our government since. For me, more than anything, this election has restored my faith in the system and that alone is plenty. But how long is it going to be before we turn against Barack Obama? Don’t get me wrong, I do believe that he will do a great job, but the man is not a magician. Between the Obama remix of whatever song, Obama sneakers, and this horrifically ridiculous piece of Obama toast that is for sale on E-Bay, we are in for a real letdown if he gets caught messing with a white woman or Malia’s MySpace page goes buck wild in a few years. I’m really happy and really inspired, but now that it’s wearing off a bit, I’m just watching my back.