Monday, November 3, 2008
Sticks and Stones May Break My Bones... But Barack Would Never Hurt Me?
"Hopin my true Mutha**ckas know, this be the realest s**t I ever wrote"
2Pac - Against All Odds
I know that not everyone is going to be feeling me on this one. Honestly, I just want to express the internal struggle that I have going on. I want to officially coin the phrase "Black Guilt". That's what I have going on inside. See the truth about it is that I'm the classic Independent voter. I voted for Al Gore in 2000, and I actually voted for George W. in 2004. (With no hesitation either). Coming into this 2008 election cycle, I really had no particular candidate that I felt a great affinity for. This is where I first experienced the phenomenon of "Black Guilt". See, early on, many people in this nation who looked just like me had made the choice as to who they would be casting their ballot for in this election. As they would say on Seinfeld, not that there's anything thing wrong with that. The difference is that at that time I was approaching 30 years old, and I just felt that I had to make more than a knee-jerk selection as to whom I believed would be best suited to run this country. So I started my due diligence, and began the process of discovering exactly who Barack Obama was.
The first aspects of what I discovered about him were simply rooted in the fact that Barack began his foray into politics in my own backyard, the south side of Chicago. I first heard of Barack back during his 2004 senatorial run. The first picture I actually saw of him was as I was driving north on the Bishop Ford freeway. As I was crossing the bridge just north of Dalton Avenue, I looked to my right and saw the name Obama. Now it got my attention because, of course, it looked way too similar to the name Osama. (Especially at 70 miles per hour).
What also caught my attention is that this man Obama is pictured with the Reverend James Meeks. Reverend Meeks had recently made his foray into politics at that time, and I found it interesting that Obama was pictured with him as a means for endorsement. However that wasn't the only billboard in the hood. I began seeing other billboards for Obama, one of which had him pictured with Jesse Jackson Jr., another rising star in south side politics. Immediately, I was more intrigued by Mr. Obama.
Then I saw him speak at the 2004 Democratic National Convention in Boston, Ma. I can't front, I was blown away, especially considering that I was pretty down on Democrats at that point and time. The way that he spoke, and inspired people, I figured that we would be seeing him again four years later running for President. I didn't believe that he would actually secure the nomination, but I thought that he'd be a great Vice-President. Probably for Hillary Clinton. Due to that, I didn't think that I'd be voting for that ticket. By far I am no fan of Ms. Clinton.
Fast forward to late January 2008. As the Democratic primary election approached in California, my then state of residence, I had a decision to make. I am a registered independent, and due to that, I can select which party's primary I want to vote in. I didn't really have anyone to support, so I decided to vote for Barack over Hillary on February 5th, 2008. When I cast that ballot, I actually felt pretty good. It was nice to cast a ballot for someone who looked like me. Due to it being just a primary, the actual issues were not as relevant for me.
That all changed on the actual candidates were the 2008 Presidential General Election were set. Now I had to actually study what these candidates believed in. Let me say this as gently as I can. I did not like what I saw in Barack Obama at all. Yes, the concept of having a black President was great. I also liked the concept of what having a black President could mean to the young black children of America. I mean, Lord knows that with so many negative influences within music and movies, the kids could use a positive influence in their lives.
Here's where the black guilt kicks in. Despite Barack's policies, am I strong enough to withstand the tidal wave of sentiment for Barack, and be one of the few black people in America to not vote for him? When I'm 65, what do I say to my grandchildren when they ask "So how did it feel to vote for the first black President of the country"? The story is not going to be very exciting when I tell them that I couldn't vote for him due to his radical stance on abortion, or his wanting to immediately get us out of Iraq, or his (somewhat) socialistic views on taxation. I mean, I know how I would feel if when I talk to my Grandfather about the Civil Rights days, and he were to tell me "You know, I wasn't really down with Dr. King like that. Too radical in my opinion". I'd be appalled!
So despite not agreeing with Barack philosophically, I'm taking a stand. I will officially announce that I am voting for Barack Obama for President. However I do so with this caveat, other than celebrating the fact that I helped to elect the first black President, I will derive no pleasure from this task. I will pray, probably each and every day, that this man operates in wisdom, and has the testicular fortitude to withstand the many trials that he is sure to face. More than anything, I hope that we as black people wake up. Yes, we're about to have a President who better understands the circumstances that we face on a daily basis. But please people, don't look at this as an opportunity to shove aside personal responsibility, and start looking for the "Brotha Man Hookup" left and right. And to Barack, don't pander to our community by being a constant source of handouts.
I spent some time with my nephew this weekend, and it amazes me that, even at only 4 years old, he is aware of who Barack Obama is. I couldn't help but smile. And probably more than any other person, even Barack himself, my nephew convinced me that Barack is exactly who I need to vote for. So if he ever says to me "Favorite Uncle, I want to be the President", I truly can respond to him "Yes you can"!