Black President / “Black” Perspective

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As cynical as I am about everything, I must say I found myself swept up by the pomp and circumstance of the Inauguration proceedings Tuesday. For once, I was really proud to be an American as the closest popular ideal of a man for me was being sworn in as President of the country. In the midst of the domino effect in the way of barriers broken on Capitol Hill, I had to deal with quite a calamitous ordeal here at home; only to find that later day friends of mine also had stories that unfortunately complimented my disconcerting one. I want to share a couple of these stories with you in hopes that it keep us all grounded and maybe, possibly… focused on the continued work we have ahead of us if we are to continue to see positive change in our society.

For those just wish all these problems would just magically evaporate, GROW UP, GET REAL AND GET A CLUE. It is people like you that help perpetuate the stupidity mentioned in these stories of ours…

Story #1

I am multi-tasking on the computer, per my usual. I have my 18 tabs open in Mozilla Firefox, newly-sworn-in President Barack Obama’s acceptance speech is blaring through two televisions in the house and I get a call on my cellphone. It’s the future wife and she’s upset. While she was enjoying the Inauguration during her lunch break, someone walked by and exclaimed today was “Black Day.” Apparently, this newly-deemed holiday must be celebrated by consuming “Black food.”
Mind you, my fiancé is caucasian and me – not so much. This particular someone knows this and goes on to ask her something to the effect of, “Hey, your fiancé’s black, what does he like to eat?” Now for the majority of you, this probably evokes a gasp, a groan or a dropped jaw. It led my fiancé to tears, as this was at her place of work and this person, a superior, was not exactly a friend of hers. There was no real way to see it as “a joke.” While speaking with her on the phone, I did all I could, as a supportive future husband, to console her and make sure she did not do anything irrational, which might garner further embarrassment and possibly the loss of a job. I mean, we cannot both be unemployed. *sigh* The times we live in…
Anyway, upon hanging up the phone, I got to thinking about the story my wife-to-be just told me and I became furious. If not for good people like Brandon Miller, Paul Potts and Chris Lee on Twitter and some friends on Facebook, I may have gone to my fiancé’s work site to have a word with this person. Truth be told, I would have probably found myself in an uncharacteristic fashion unable to even blog this as I would have been locked up – Akon-style – for my contemplated actions.
I do not allow people like that to get to me, but as I stated earlier, I got swept up in all the hoopla of the Inauguration and I was in another stratosphere of happiness. The insensitive individual at my fiancé’s job made the wrong comment at exactly the right time. I say right, because from what I understand he was never remotely favorable to Obama becoming president. Even if he did not mean it, he was able to knock down a couple folks down a few notches by his reprehensible statements.
All that said, we ended up meeting with some friends later that evening and they told us some sad incidents that they witnessed also Tuesday.

Story #2

In a high school in Oakland County, a foreign exchange student was heard whispering “BANG BANG” as the President was being sworn in. Sorry, kid or not, WTF?!

Story #3

At a local insurance administration agency, co-workers gathered in their lunchroom to watch the President speak. One worker made the audible comment that “Since he’s now president, maybe they’ll go to work now.”

Barack Obama’s face is not single-handedly going to eradicate society’s problems.

I did not write this to educate you – the reader – on ignorance. Let’s face it, the average person that reads this blog is more than informed in the ills of our world. I only want it to be known that just because a black man is now president does not mean that racism has been erased in the world. You have just been given three reasons as to how that is false. If you believe that racism, sexism, homophobism and/or any other -ism are/is wrong, then I urge you to not rest of your laurels in the midst of bigotry. Sure, it is fantastic that a minority was elected to the highest office in the land, but Barack Obama’s face is not single-handedly going to eradicate society’s problems. It is still up to us to create real change, regardless of what you believe. For those just wish all these problems would just magically evaporate, GROW UP, GET REAL AND GET A CLUE. It is people like you that help perpetuate the stupidity mentioned in these stories of ours, which by the way are all true.

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  • Paul R. Potts

    It does make me wonder. Will we see a lot more racism coming out of the woodwork, because now folks will feel that it is OK to criticize the President in specific, instead of black folks in general?

    I voted for Obama, but I was not tremendously excited by his candidacy — I felt that his voting record was a little too centrist for my taste. I did make it a policy to send his campaign a $50 contribution whenever I heard a major news source making some blatantly racist slur against him. Like the “baby momma” thing. Fox News in particular really got me to support his campaign!

  • Shauna Nicholson

    Thank you for posting this. What an interesting article. At our home, we celebrated the inauguration with the African-American achievement at heart! I’m sure we’ll do the same when a woman achieves the office as well.

  • Milena Thomas

    Race and racism is a complicated matter. Obama’s victory is great, but in a way, it’s a shame that it has to be. Does that make sense? The work that it will take for racism to be eliminated will take a long time, and may never be complete. People will always find something to ostracize others for. If it is not skin color, it will be something else. Human nature.

    I don’t know much about sociology or anthropology, but I’d be interested in a scientist’s take on the social change we are seeing. Is it, in fact, social change, or simply better marketing. Or does better marketing lead to social change? I’d have to say yes. I’d have to say that for some people, unfortunately, having a black president will break down barriers. It shouldn’t be necessary, really, but I think it is.

  • Hubert

    Thanks everyone for your comments, keep them coming!

    I will be very interested to see how all this plays out too. Maybe there will be new rhetorical excuses for why it’s okay to judge a person based on superficial categories. I’m reminded by the ban of selective admission in colleges based on race in California and Michigan where the logic in the drop in minority college students was “it’s just the way it should be” when all the colleges were doing was have their student population mimic that of their state demographic. It just seems like we have so much work to do, but we’ve come so far as you mentioned to me yesterday.

    Glad to have you drop by!
    If anything, it is more an American achievement than an African-American one. African-Americans have made many contributions to the betterment of society. All my life, I have known a culture of people that just want that respect and recognition. Hopefully, such contributions can be as casually recognized as we get over the color of our President’s skin.

    Welcome to the Urbane Blog!
    I think your first point makes total sense. In fact, I agree; I don’t think judgmental behaviors will ever truly vanish as long as we are left to our own cognizance.
    I really hope that having Obama as president will help break virtually every barrier that my possible future children will have to face in the future. You’re right though, it really shouldn’t be necessary, but we are a society gassed up by its own marketing engine. It is only right that it takes soundbites and billboards to reshape our social consciousness.

  • Jamie Favreau

    I am so sorry that she had to go through that. I really hate that ingnorance is still around in this day and age and it is only US that can make that change. We have to change the way that we raise our children and change the views of our parents and grandparents.
    This is 2009, not 1929, and things need to be changed for the better. I am happy that you didn’t lose your cool and got talked down. That was a rough sitiuation to be in.

  • Brandon

    Thanks for writing this up, Hubert. I think you show us very clearly what we all know — this country, despite leaping forward with the election of President Obama — has a long way to go.

    A friend recently commented that it wasn’t so long ago that black and white partners were not allowed to marry. Seems crazy now, doesn’t it? Yet, we still don’t give gay couples equal rights. I hope that the economic crisis does not get in the way of this new President and Congress moving forward on social issues. I want my damned rights.

  • Frank P

    Another great post. Sharing this is more productive than spouting off to this guy who is not likely to change his mind anyhow. While we can’t necessarily change people’s minds if they’re bigots/ sexists/ homophobes, we CAN make them feel uncomfortable. If someone says “that’s gay” in my presence, I tell them I’m gay- 9/10 it embarasses these people and – I hope – makes them think twice the next time. Don’t laugh at the stupid joke. Don’t let someone get away with an offensive comment. We need to isolate these fuckers.