I offer my congratulations to Senator, soon to be President, Barack Obama, for a successful end to his campaign. While ever mindful of the work that continues to face the country in terms of race, the United States is fortunate to have as its next President, a person like Senator Obama who will be a thoughtful, careful, and intelligent leader. We need a person with these characteristics in these chaotic times.
Interestingly, then, it is a bewildering moment for me. For so long it has never been realistic to envision that a person like President-elect Obama could become President of the United States, with all of the office’s awesome power and responsibilities.
I remember a story occurring when I was an undergraduate in a local university. I was one of a very few Black students in a presidential election politics course. On the first day of class, the professor asked all of the students to stand. Unknown to me at the time, the professor was going to demonstrate the identity of a potential United States President by using the students in the class. If a student did not fit a particular characteristic of the past Presidents, the student was asked to sit.
As you can imagine, he asked the Black students to sit down first as there had never been a Black President (this was in the 1990s). Although I knew that the professor was speaking the truth, I was nevertheless irritated with having been asked to sit down so soon and so publicly. [Had I known that the professor was going to do that, I would have found a reason to be late.]
So given that experience and my knowledge of history, I accepted the fact that there would never be a Black President in my lifetime. It is easier to release the possibility of events that are not likely to become a reality rather than hoping for a dream, which never materializes, to become real. The latter thought is depressing; thus, it is far better to discard impossible dreams.
Then Senator Barack Obama entered onto the political scene. Given my experiences, I viewed his candidacy with interest, but I did not get enthusiastic lest I had to endure yet another disappointment of a failed dream.
Despite guarded optimism, I was able to witness at 11:00 pm, the exciting historic moment when Senator Obama became the President-elect. For a pleasant moment, a long disregarded dream did indeed become real. Also, future Black students who are faced with a similar professorial experiment will not have to sit down because there has never been a Black President. It is a relief to see at least one obstacle fall!
While I am pleased to have President-elect Obama in charge, I do not pretend that all of the racial issues that I write about on this blog will instantly find a cure. I guardedly hope that the demons of the past that live on subtly today will be eliminated. But to do that, the country will need to be committed to address the past with truth and provide relief for those who are suffering from the past wrongs.