Coronation – The Aftermath
A bunch of friends of mine gathered for brunch the next day, before we scattered in the wind back to our respective corners of the globe. This was a subset of The Smartest People I Know.
Since everyone knew I made a special cross country trip at some expense to attend, I was asked “how did this event change my life?”
CHANGE my life? I don’t think so. I wanted to be there, I wanted to witness it. It felt like the kind of place where serendipitous things might happen by being in the right place at the right time.
But Obama’s success has changed the way I think. His success on his own terms challenges all of us – not just the black underclass who people keep admonishing “Barack’s president so no more affirmative action for you!”
Even with a lifetime of “mainstream” success, I still see the world in terms of being a member of the oppositional culture. To acknowledge my part in broader society, then take control of it, requires a consciousness shift that I am still working on. But he’s inspired me to do so.
My wife joined the conversation mid-stream, and when asked about Barack’s impact, she said simply “it’s the first time we’ve had black royalty”. Not that she’s ignoring the kings and queens of our African heritage, but acknowledging the closest Black Americans have to a Kennedyesque dynasty is the Jackson family.
To her point, she related a story we heard the night before about the Obama girls. Their grandmother took them to the Kids’ Concert the other day. While all the other kids were wilding out, Sasha and Malia sat there like little ladies. Finally, when the Jonas Brothers were performing their big hit (whatever that is) the girls cut a pleading look at Grandma. Grandma gave a silent nod and the girls rocked out.
That is how it’s supposed to work. The girls know how to act in public, and permission is asked and granted without words. In turn, Grandma knows when to let the girls be girls. Beautiful thing that we can all aspire to.
Photographs of Obama loving his daughters, at least one of which rocks braids on the regular, gives us ammo as parents against the assault of blonde Disney princesses and all the little white girls at my kid’s school who love my daughter, but at the same time, can make her feel insecure because she doesn’t have hair that flips. That isn’t just a black thing; female one upmanship starts pre-K. Fortunately, she’s already a leader and doesn’t even know it. But that doesn’t mean the road won’t be hard. But a black First Family makes it a lot easier.
President Obama also demands something else of us. Right before I left for Washington DC, the middle aged Mexican guy working the pumps at a gas station asked me “jew going online to (he had the email address memorized) to geet one of those government jobs? Jour main is in”. Yes, he really had that heavy an accent.
Your man is in. That’s the fundamental truth. If your man is in, you are supposed to get the hook up. You’re supposed to take advantage of the situation. If you don’t, that’s on you.
At the Democratic National Convention, a friend said we need to have dinners on the regular to decide what we are going to do when we take control of the world.
We don’t think like that. And no, we didn’t have those dinners, and I’m not in a position to get a hook up even though my man is in. But that doesn’t mean it’s too late, even though other folks who are far more used to acquiring power are in position.
Beyond the quest for hook ups and get overs, we need to focus on making the world a better place. We can’t look at Barack and say “it’s on you”. His success means “it’s on US”. It means we have a possible partner in government if we decide to make change on our school board, block committee, multinational corporation.
We know forces to the right will be pulling on him to go to the middle, to compromise. We need to clear a path for him to do what he knows is right by being a voice, being a presence that demands the right thing be done. We need to strap up and lay down a suppressing fire that clears a lane for him to bring it home.