Monday, January 19, 2009

Episode 33: The Obama Factor


I can’t even begin to describe how excited I am about Obama’s inauguration. It is like my New York Jets winning the Super Bowl… an event I didn’t think I’d ever get to see in my lifetime (the Jet’s however still have a ways to go…). Though it is true that we have made great strides in racial equality in America, electing a Black man into office seemed like we had a ways to go as a people (and in this case I speak on the behalf of Black Americans) before we’d have a leader the nation would elect.

Obama’s victory is so surreal, that old school Black comedians are having a tough time adjusting. All of a sudden, “ghetto mentality” punch lines seem so passé and irrelevant. From D.L. Hughley’s Breaks the News on CNN, where the punch line of Obama’s victory was a house party, poppin’ bottles of Cristal with raunchy rap music, to David Alan Grier’s advice for Obama to “ignore the parts of your Black half that may make you wanna… smoke crack with a hooker in a DC hotel, text message booty calls to your chief of staff, while having a stripper party…” – these types of hurdles among many other examples that made me wonder who in our culture could possibly become the face of the nation, when we are still so bound to the wounds and mentality of the past. But here we are, with the most unlikely of candidates – a politician with relatively little experience, a man whose history embodies the American experience, whose wife is the direct descendant of slaves, and a man who epitomizes class, character, and eloquence. He is the new face of America.

As a Black American, perhaps the thing I’m most excited about is what the future of the minority class will look like. I believe Obama’s mission to end the divisiveness that has pitted Americans against one another, and instead unify us under one banner will invoke a new dialogue amongst minorities. No more Black vs. Whites, but character vs. character. And this appeal is more far reaching than just one ethnic community; he is challenging all Americans to be held accountable for their actions, and to hold Obama accountable as well. We cannot be the voice of hope to the world until we are practicing what we preach. Finally, I believe we will see an America where we value shared responsibility, sacrifice, and a renewed sense of patriotism.

Gone are the days of Blue vs. Red. Perhaps, even my own blog subtitle “politics and the world through a blue lens” is passé and irrelevant in the Obama era. We have spent so many decades, these past eight years in particular, consumed with the notion of left vs. right, Black vs. White, Straight vs. Gay, that we feel compelled to polarize our points of view. Obama calls for bipartisanship, but I think it’s safe to say Obama would rather call it nonpartisanship if the term didn’t sound so utopian. Already, he has made it clear that all points of view will be considered, and all ideological figures will be brought to the table. The president is not supposed to represent the left or the right, but instead the best interests of the American people. Our politically polarized lens labels this stance as moderate, but his world view is far more complex. Through debate and intellectual discourse from all perspectives, he will draw a conclusion based on the best answers he hears, and from his own vision for America. I trust his vision, and I trust that better days are ahead. Yes we can.
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