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My Current Black Reflections

It's such a great time to be Black. With Barack Obama set to accept the Democratic nomination, HBO and CNN doing groundbreaking specials on African Americans, and the New York Times exploring Obama's effect on the Civil Rights movement, people of color are the in-thing right now.

I'm happy to see the Obama phenomenon occur in my lifetime, but I'm a little disheartened, too. Our country is one of trends. We love to follow the next hot thing. Yes, Michael Phelps has swam his way into history, but will anyone remember his name next year? After Barack paints the White House black, will anyone care about the common Negroes?

The article in the Times explored how Barack's rise to power will affect the struggle for equality that African Americans still face every day of their lives. Yes, our president may be Black, but that doesn't do anything about the fact that I can get better groceries at the Ralph's in Beverly Hills than I can at the one on Crenshaw. Having a Black president won't necessarily translate into a better public education system. Most activists are concerned that once Barack gets in the White House, White people will think that Blacks have finally overcome.

Newsflash -- overcoming has less to do with Obama and more to do with ourselves. We have to be the change we want to see. Yes, it'll be a good thing to have the senator from Illinois in the White House. But nothing will change for us until we change our minds. White people will NEVER give us our fair shot. We have to take it. We have to stop listening to the voices within and around us saying that we can't. We have to just do what we can to make the difference in our own situations.

One of my students told me that a closed mouth doesn't get fed. He's right. As long as we settle for the status quo in our neighborhoods, we won't get the goods and services Whites get. It's one thing to bemoan the plight of Black America, but it's another thing to do something about it. And just like a 10-year-old made a difference in my life, we have to remember that journeys of a thousand miles start with one step.

As for what's happening in our world, I'm glad to see it. Seeing Barack Obama hit the national scene warms me up like nothing else has before. I'm so happy to be Black and beautiful and alive to see these times. While my day-to-day life probably won't change, it's my sincere hope that Barack and Michelle's presence in the White House, my existence in this White world won't seem so strange.


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