Wednesday, November 5, 2008


Many of us are celebrating the election of Barack Obama as this country’s first Afrikan descendant president. And, of course, the historical implications of this moment cannot be denied.

But I do have a question. . .what is it that we are really celebrating about his victory?

IF – as so many political pundits have shared with their insistence on casting Barack Obama’s candidacy as “proof” of a “post-racial” world, what we are really celebrating is that which John McCain noted in his concession speech:

“America today is a world away from the cruel and frightful bigotry of that time. There is no better evidence of this than the election of an African-American to the presidency of the United States. Let there be no reason now. . .Let there be no reason now for any American to fail to cherish their citizenship in this, the greatest nation on Earth”

And if this is what we are really celebrating, what we are supporting is the notion that Barack Obama’s presidential victory means that racism / white supremacy is no longer in operation, is dead and buried, and can no longer be “used as an excuse” (as if that is what the majority of Afrikan descendants are doing when noting examples and impacts of racism/white supremacy on their lives).

With this victory narrative is the demand that we now “turn the page” because – as the media and other white amerikkkans (and some Afrikan descendants) are saying - with Barack Obama as president, the last institutional barriers of racism/white supremacy are now torn and we can -- at long last -- put “race” behind us.

In fact, that is one of the overriding themes of post-election coverage, and I’M SURE that that theme is one we’ll be hearing from white amerikkka in the days, months, and years to come, though the facts –- even and including the way Barack Obama had to claim “cultural invisibility” to successfully campaign and increase white amerikkka’s comfort level with him as a Black man -– do not support this rose-colored-glasses view.

But this is how the celebration story is shaping up and I’m sure that this will be the overriding narrative as the country moves forward, including the “Jeremiah Wright-ing” (so to speak) of those whose lives make it impossible to engage in the acts of self-hatred that denying the social/political/economic realities of racism in amerikkka would be.

So. . .having said this, I am prayerfully grateful for this historical moment. Am I “celebrating”?

Not quite. We have not “arrived” anywhere yet, and despite victory, the acknowledged concessions that Barack and Michelle Obama had to make in order to “adjust” to the racist/white supremacist climate of this country –- still -- just reinforced how far we have to go on this issue (“post-racial”? still wishful thinking. . .). (In that same vein, the way that white amerikkka insists upon simplifying and dismissing this as an issue just shows how much they want to “turn the page” without thought, reflection, or analysis.)

But yet. . .

I am hopeful that maybe this country will now have an administration that is open to “staying the course” and advancing the work of Justice.

I am open and prayerful that we will NOT choose to “turn the page” as if generations of my family and yours did not matter. This country still owes a great debt of acknowledgement and restitution of great and continuing wrongs to those of us whose physical, spiritual, mental, emotional, and economic well-being have been lost on the altar of the white worship in which this country has spent the bulk of its existence engaged.

No one election, no one Afrikan descendant in the presidency will “make up for”, sweep aside, or “turn the page” on that; not unless we are willing to abandon and dismiss the sacrifices of those who have come before; those upon whose shoulders we stand.

IF what we are really celebrating stays here -– the election of Barack Obama –- with no plan of action to continue to work for justice; IF we just view his election to the White House AS the justice we seek; then we have lost our minds and the opportunity his election has provided.

Martin Luther King, Jr. stated not that long ago “the moral arc of the universe bends at the elbow of justice.”

Let’s hope that this is the beginning of that bend and let’s be mindful of what is really important:

· the opportunity to work with a new administration that will, hopefully, be committed to justice;

· the opportunity we have to “stay the course” in seeking justice; and

· the privilege to see justice through, for Our Ancestors, for Our Children, for The World.

Moving Forward!