Sunday, November 09, 2008

Barack Obama's presidency is not the change we need

Unfortunately, this week hasn't been good for everyone.

One of our college students called on Wednesday to let me know that a noose had been hung in an area of the Baylor campus where the African-American students hang out. She told me about an Obama sign-burning that took place in a bar-b-que pit and some fights that had broken out between Whites and Blacks. The story was picked up by CNN:

She text'd back on Friday to let me know that the fighting had not let up. She told me of instances of the "n" word being used toward students who White students assumed voted for Obama. She talked about the tension and slight fear that has been created through White students comments and threats...and some retaliation that has happened with some of the Black students.

As she told me about these events, she wondered aloud, "Why are they targeting us? It wasn't just Black people who elected Barack Obama. Why are they acting like it was only Black people who elected him?" She explained that some White people she knew voted for Obama and some Black people she knew voted for McCain.

An African-American student of mine who teaches at a small, rural, predominantly White school explained that this week has been very somber at her school. One of her close [White] friends who hadn't spoken to her all week finally admitted to her that she is scared President Obama is going to enact all kinds of laws that benefit Black people and oppress White people.

It is true that 95% of African-Americans voted for Barack Obama...but so did 43% of Whites, 67% of Hispanics, and 62% of Asians. Barack Obama could not have been elected solely on the Black vote; there simply aren't enough Black people to make that happen. Plus, as we all know in "politics," people have to cater to their electorate or they won't be elected again. I don't know of any politician who gets elected just to prove a point (i.e. that a Black man can be president) and doesn't want to be re-elected when that time comes.

This reality has not escaped Barack Obama. He addressed it in his speech:
"And to those Americans whose support I have yet to earn -- I may not have won your vote, but I hear your voices, I need your help, and I will be your President too."
Barack Obama is not going to be perfect. No president ever is. I'm sure he will make decisions that I will not agree with. Besides, the presidency is different than the campaign; he will probably not fulfill all campaign promises due to realities he didn't realize as a candidate.

But Barack Obama never said he had all of the answers. Throughout the campaign, Barack Obama challenged US to get involved. The presidency is not the end. It is only the beginning. Each of us must step up and get involved. We must get out in the community, organize people, and encourage them to speak out as well. It is OUR voices that are important to making this country work.

November 4 was not "the change" we are looking for. November 4 was only the BEGINNING of that change.

It was up to us to start the process of change. We did that by electing a president who is African American. It will be up to us to continue that involving ourselves in local writing letters that express our thoughts and educating ourselves about candidates and vote visiting city hall.

Our democratic society is set up so that everyone can be a part.

"There's not a liberal America and a conservative America; there's the United States of America. There's not a black America and a white America and Latino America and Asian America; there's the United States of America." ~Barack Obama
We must ALL choose to be a part of that change for it to happen. We're not there yet.
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