When I was a young boy growing up in Saint Louis Missouri, I was aware of many of the “first” by black people. I remember my adult relatives calling out in excitement of seeing a black person on “American Band Stand” or a game show. I can recall the details of the first black person going to college or getting a high profile job. Every black child growing up in the 1950s remember Congressman Adam Clayton Powell of New York.
Occasionally, I would catch myself daydreaming about being the first black person to achieve something important. And as every black person, I thought what it would be like to see a black man as president. I did not know much about politics as a child but I knew a lot about race. It seemed important to me that a black man achieve this level. It was important for my family and my race. It was important for everyone around me.
We thought a black President would change how black people thought about themselves and how white people thought about us. We thought black President would stop the police brutality housing discrimination and joblessness.
That was childish “symbolism” of the 1950s and I out grew it. In the 1960s I became a teenager and was living in a rural white community. I no longer look forward to seeing the first black do something, I had to become the first black to achieve many of the things I wanted out of life.
Growing up around those white children taught me a lot about white America. Some were nice some were mean, some were smarter than me and some were not. They were not magical, superior creatures, they were just kids like me. I played sports, some were better and some were not. I studied my lessons and I socialized. I learned that the greatest difference between us teenagers were our morals. Some looked at life as an opportunity to take from someone others looked at it as an opportunity to give. As I began to determined my own morals and started to associate with similar people, I found my views of my world begin to change.
It no longer mattered if we had a black President or not. The President did not represent my race. He really would not stop discrimination, I would have to. The white teenagers who had the same morals as I, banded together with others like ourselves and with the like minded adults, changed the world. It was not because we had a good President, it was because we were good people.
I learned that I had to represent me. I had to stop the discrimination. I had to open opportunities for myself and for my family. By not waiting for a leader to lead me, I began to take charge of my own future. Sure I found many people did not like my new style and self confidence, so what? Others wanted me to fail for their own reasons, so what? I had to achieve because it was up to me.
However, many people did not have that mind set. Many never developed that personal confidence in their own future. Some kept and grew the impression that their plight in life was the fault and responsibility of others. These are the people who supports Barrack Hussein Obama today, simply because he would be the first black President. Obama’s polices does not matter to them. He will lift the burdens off their lives, he will make the bullies of life leave them alone. Obama represents the great equalizer. This is the real hope he presents.
White voters and black voters who have been depending upon symbolic representation are idolizing Obama as the great equalizer. It does not matter what comes out about him or what he does, they will only support him more. I understand that mentality and no longer try to challenge it or persuade it. The only hope is for us to show up on election day and out vote them.