Wednesday, November 5, 2008
IT IS NOT OVER!
The election is over and the results are in. America has stepped into a new day. We have turned the page--scratch that-- we have closed the book on eight years of bad policy (both foreign and domestic). BARRACK OBAMA is the 44th President of the United States. Change has indeed come. For the past two years many have shouted “Yes We Can!” and yes we did. I’m sure many of you have already started celebrating (indeed some of you have been acting a fool ever since last night), but before you break out the alcohol and call in sick for work, remember this: IT IS NOT OVER!
Obama had a spot on resume, he aced the interview, and he got the job. For that we can all (all of us…not just black folks) be proud and indeed a little emotional during this pivotal moment in history. However, I must reiterate the point that I made above: IT IS NOT OVER! In my mind, employment is made up of three phases which are the following:
- Getting the Job
- Doing the Job Well
- Leaving the Job
America has finally allowed a black man to accomplish the first phase in regards to leading this nation (and by default the free world). We are now on to the second phase. Barrack Obama now has to do the job that we elected him to do. He not only has to do the job, but he has to do the job well. In fact he has to do the job better than all of the Presidents (who were of course white) who have preceded him in recent memory (for me that would go all the way back to Regan, maybe Carter for some of you, maybe further back for others of you). It is on him (unfairly perhaps) to prove to Mainstream America, that choosing a leader, who happens to be black, was not a disastrous experiment but the right choice all along.
He is still being watched. People are stilling waiting for him to mess up so that they can say “I told you so…”! And given the state this country is in right now, Obama has precious little time to enjoy the fruits of a hard fought and won presidential campaign. He has to hit the ground running (and in a sense he is still running).
We have not arrived. IT IS NOT OVER! This is not the Promised Land. We are only at the River Jordan and it just now parted so that we may walk on dry ground. If you think about it, you will know that it’s true. The views of White America have not changed last night (indeed a large portion of White America feels like they are taking a giant leap of faith). Obama has to show them that we will land safely on the other side, thankful that we were willing to take the chance. Obama is now the Jackie Robinson of Politics.
Consider this: if Jackie Robinson was not the cool character that he was in the face of such extreme racial pressure (from both sides really), would baseball (the rest of professional team sports for that matter) be what it is today in terms of diversity? I think not. So you see, the milestone in integrating professional sports did not occur when Robinson was chosen to play for the Dodgers. It occurred when Robinson proved to the fearful naysayers not only that he was as good as if not better than the white players, but he had the temperament to remain professional in the midst of unprofessional behavior. He was clearly a black baseball player, but he had to comport himself as just a baseball player. Robinson kept his cool and as a result many other talented black athletes were given a shot in mainstream professional team sports.
The same challenge faces Obama. Once he get’s sworn in, he will be the first black president (sit down Bill, you were just a place holder in that respect) and no one will be able to take that away from him. What Obama (and the rest of the forward looking nation for that matter) have to make sure of, is that he is not the last Non-White Man to be elected president. He has to be the type of president that makes the rest of America wonder “Hmmm…Why didn’t we do this sooner?” The hopes of little girls and boys of every race and ethnicity rest on the relative success of an Obama Administration. If he were to somehow fail in this, the naysayers would be quick to point to his presidency as evidence against breaking with the norm (The Old White Man) in choosing our leaders. So, although Obama would clearly be a black president, he must comport himself as just a president (with competence, integrity, and humility). Forget all the old black jokes about, smoking weed in the Oval Office, painting the White House black, candy painting Air Force One, and other ignorant things we used to say laugh away the pain the resulted from acknowledging what was once an impossibility. This is a new day and Obama has to continue to transcend race in his leadership of America (essentially riding that elephant right out of the room) just as he did in running for the office.
This has indeed been a long, long time coming. A moment over 400 years in the making has finally arrived, but we have not…IT’S NOT OVER! Although historical and tremendously important, this moment is not the end of a long journey.
People like Douglas reminded us that we do not belong in the field. People like Tubman led the trek to the Big House. People like Parks, knocked on the door fully expecting to be let in. People like King and X (Shabazz for the enlightened), got their foot in the door. People like Jackson and Sharpton (yes even they were able to have a positive affect on progress no matter how self-serving their motives may have been) were able to squeeze through the narrow opening. It is now up to people like Obama and Us, who are now inside the Big House, to put that house in order. This is so that people like our children and our children’s children can enjoy the warmth inside, for generations to come.
History has indeed been achieved today, but we will only be able to appreciate whether the lasting affect of this moment has on the future will be positive or negative, four (or hopefully eight years) from now. Is Obama up to the task? I think so (if I didn’t think he was, I would not have voted for him) and by extension I believe that we are up to the task. So now that we got the job, it’s time to get to work, because IT IS NOT OVER!
*Photo curtesy of CNN.com and the AP