Thursday, January 29, 2009
With the election of our lovely new and improved President, one can’t help but notice the wave of anticipation, and excitement in the air. Most everyone (yes even some Republican Americans) cannot help but be swept up into the electric atmosphere. I have never seen people so giddy every time that man comes up on the screen. People smile when he bobs his head to Aretha Franklin, people tear up when he speaks about his mother, people applaud when he quotes the great Sam Cooke saying “A Change Gonna Come!”
Of course all of this has begged the question of whether we live in a post-racial word. In an earlier blog entry my co-horts Kelly Tsai and Idris Goodwin responded to the bizarre question posed in the Chicago RedEye “Is Racism Dead?” If I can be permitted to paraphrase them, “Hells No!” I perfectly understand that it is monumental and historic that Obama is now in the white house, no longer is a man of color (not a black man, but a man of color, lets be real) unable to go higher up than a General Colin Powell, or a Condi Rice, this man of color is DA MAN! But, this means very little in the real day to day world. There are still forms of institutional racism that exist today, still a lack of investment in schools in poor neighborhoods, still a disproportionate level of punishment for African American narcotics offenders, still a lack of representation of people of color in investment firms, in the legal system and in HOLLYWOOD to ever say that racism is dead or that we live in a post-racial world. Obama’s election does not in the slightest way make everything ok, and while that might seem an obvious statement, you would be surprised to know how many people interact with me as if I have suddenly been liberated.
At the end of the day, I am still a perceived threat to many in this country because of my ethnicity, I am still suspect. I am still having a harder time getting apartments to rent when people see my face after talking to me on the phone, and I know that if I lived in Inglewood, Chicago and decided to raise a family, my kids would get a poor education based on the demographic and geographic environment.
Now, what the election of our President does pose is….(drum roll please) HOPE. Obama brings the possibility that the ball will start rolling on these issues, that he will kindly remind his advisers that they need to think about what the little guy needs, that other people of color who are consistently overlooked or misrepresented need to be brought to the table. Here’s hoping.
I feel for him though…coming into this economic climate, the mess from the previous administration and the war in Gaza it almost seems like he has been set up to fail in some way.
I don’t think my expectations are lofty though….I think he just needs to deliver, like any president would have to…regardless of race.