I cannot count the number of times conservatives have thrown this accusatory comment under some of my articles: “You blacks voted for Obama and will do so again only because he’s black.” They are usually very indignant when writing it—I can tell by the number of exclamation points, caps used and repetitive postings.
People who write such comments are usually the rabid racists or those spewing inflammatory rhetoric, so I know they are too myopic or biased to see the historic magnitude of a Barack Hussein Obama. The foreign-sounding "un-American" name doesn't help either, does it?
These types refuse to or are incapable of grasping the deep significance of black people finally seeing a racial, ancestral connection to themselves at the helm of this great country. A country that is truly magnificent—but, let’s keeps it real, also has an incredible tumultuous, dark underbelly—to move forward effectively as one people, we have to embrace all of it, the “exceptionalism” as well as the excruciating ugliness.
So let’s address this “black-on-black propensity,” as some see it. Just for argument’s sake and a bit of humor as well, if the 2008 presidential nominee was someone like a clock-and-grill-wearing, aging rapper Flava Flav, would black people support him just because he was the first black man to reach that far in US history?is black by American standards (he had a white American mother and black African father, and the colonial drop-of-black-blood rule is still in full effect), but that’s not all he is. He is intelligent, intellectual, Ivy League-educated, accomplished, philanthropic, a family man, charismatic, an effective orator, a unifier. Let’s just say he has a few other things going for him besides his pigmentation.
It is so much more than mere skin color. For me, the election of Barack Obama symbolizes wounds being healed, a range and depth of centuries-old gaps being bridged. Gaps with shifting, burdensome crevices of pain, prejudice, poverty, inequality, inequity, avoidance, white-washed history, inaccuracies, disenchantment, dissatisfaction and more. His unique genealogy—the product of a white mother and black African father—couldn’t have been more appropriate in beginning the process of bridging these gaps, lifting the heavy, lingering, ugly load.
America is a uniquely diverse nation, sometimes striving valiantly to make amends and bury its shameful past, and other times, struggling in denial at the corrosive ugly still seeping through the cracks. So Obama rising out of that complexity of color and the effects on our racial, historical, social, political, psychological, socioeconomic and emotional consciousness are monumental to us. In fact, epic.
In 2008, America elected the 44th leader but the first black president of “these here United States.” Those accusing us of voting for him only because he is black cannot see beyond their perceived reality. Do not understand that there are other realties behind that curtain and though we may want to believe it is only one America, there are many layers to her. Should we say all the white folks who did not vote for him, did so because he is black and the 43 men who came before him were elected because they were white?
I always say that we interpret history depending on the view from our vantage point, and though we strive as Americans of different color, ethnicity, religion, culture, language to weave our bit of fabric into that one incredible tapestry that makes up this nation, we still all have very uniquely different stories to tell.
Barack Hussein Obama is part of America’s story, but from our vantage point, he represents that first major inclusive step—an epic chapter in our story.