A friend sent me the essay below and when I read it I knew I had to share it on this blog. The author, Mr Robert J. House, in his 70's,is a retired professional man of Black African descent,who came of age before, during, and through the civil rights 1960's.
His thoughts on the election of Barack Obama and how it changes the paradigm:
Some have asked what I think, so I thought I would add my two cents worth. I'm amazed at how calm I was when at 11PM election night, MSN made the announcement. Of course there was a great sense of pride, but true to my nature after a pause, the wonderment came,what will it all mean? When Barack Obama walked out with his family, my emotions were a misting in my eyes, and a chill, followed by a warm glow of fulfillment. I was amazed at how much he has aged, coupled with the sadness etched on his face by the loss of his grandmother.
Women shaped his life, as is the reality for many of the black men of our generation who "amounted to anything" . I know that was the case for me - it has been both a blessing and a challenge.
For America, and the world, his election is a daunting task. We all know about the Two Wars, the economy, failing education, crumbling infra-structures and a health care system that borders on genocide for the poor and disenfranchised. All this coupled with our damaged reputation around the world. My question is, will America "step up" and support this new young president and begin to seriously address and fix these problems or will some Americans, particularly those out of power,or those possessed with racial and cultural hatred coupled by fear and fueled by lack of economic opportunity, rather see this country fail than give this "n***** " a chance to succeed? The thing is, those who would strongly withhold their support fail to take into consideration that when they had power and access, they failed, because they could not or were not equipped to handle the issues.
For we Americans of "Black African descent", the days coming are going to be particularly challenging and life altering times. I'm reminded of Tavis Smiley's annual forum on the "State of Black America" and how last year, he got "pissed" because Obama would not attend. My thoughts are that that forum dwindled in effectiveness (other than a place to complain) because the lack of jobs, poor education, poor infrastructure, the cost of energy and the overall economy now affected all ethnicity.
Our task will be to understand our particular place in American society and our responsibility to that place and ourselves. Unlike other "minorities" we are unique in that we do not have a typical ancestral and cultural core that we can identify and cling to. The Latinos (not to be confused with Hispanics), Asians(Chinese,Japanese, Koreans, Vietnamese, etc) Eastern Europeans, Middle Eastern (Iran, Iraq, Egyptians, Laotians,Syrians,etc) all have their separate cultural identity from dress, language, food, religious worship, role of women, etc. These immigrant minorities came here of their own free will. Whereas our ancestors, for the most part, came here against their will. This stripped from us ancestral and cultural identity, aspects that would sustain us though generations. The vast majority of us cannot identify what country or continent we came from and only assume we must come from one of the west African countries. But we do have a uniqueness that sets us apart and makes us "first among equal" of the immigrant groups. Our african ancestors built this country and we have the blood, sweat, tears and the scars to prove it. For me,for all of us ,this is the country of our ancestors and Barack Obama's election as it's Chief Executive is the manifestation of our ownership,our pride of ownership,our inclusion.
With his election to the presidency,Barack Obama has shone the bright light on our ownership and it is our responsibility to do all that we can to protect and enhance it. We cannot, with any conviction,no longer say that we cannot succeed,not be responsible for and to our families (particularly our children),not be stewards of our communities, not establish meaningful and worthwhile relationships because "the man won't let us". Truth be told, we are "the man" and it is past time (particularly for our men) to prepare and act like it!
Not all of us will go to college, achieve noteworthy status, or get rich, but all of us have something to offer. It's only when we fail to try and take our place in ensuring our ownership that we tear down those who work hard, sacrifice, get knocked down and get back up and keep on trying. In God's time he sent the world Barack Obama, loaded his back like a country mule and told him to keep stepping. We can do no less.