Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Black President...If the Dead Could Vote Exhibit at Laney College

On perhaps the greatest day in the history of the United States, I worked late…tried to get the radio via Internet, but couldn’t, so I left COA (College of Alameda) headed for my car where I could hear the coverage as California polls neared closing time. I thought about all the parties I knew of and those I probably could have attended as I changed my mind about going to any of them. Instead, I pulled out my portable radio and walked around Lake Merritt…joggers passed me by as drivers honked their horns and people asked me amazed: Do we have a black president?

Later on, just after 8 p.m., I was like: Yes we do! I am so amazed that after the most expensive campaign in the history of this country, and the longest campaign—22 months, the race is over. I still see Alice Walker’s smiling face and her words—we are the one’s we’ve been waiting for.

Such a decent man… I think often during this grueling battle for the seat. As I pass a club, people spill out onto the sidewalk jubilant and engaged--a brother who asks me to confirm what he knows to be true says: "Well now we'll have to live up to it."

Black people always do better—we always have. We always do better and still that hasn’t been enough to receive what others have taken for granted, certain inalienable rights—freedom, justice, and equality. Just maybe, a black man as president might make the difference –can you imagine a black first lady and a black family in the White House?

I can.

It’s about time. Black hands built the White House. Remember a few short years ago when Sister Rosa Parks lay in state there. I’m sure the she’s smiling. So is Sally Hemmings and Brother Fred Douglass.

When I left my friend's house to resume my walk around the Lake, it was Obama 213 and McCain 142. I was leaving at 8, I got a call from my older daughter telling me Obama won…and I was: How can he win when the polls are only just closing. I went back inside the apartment and as my friend refreshed her screen there it was—Obama in just those few minutes left McCain so in the dust the Arizona senator conceded defeat.

Did McCain throw the election deliberately? His moves were certainly questionable: Why else would he choose a running mate like Palin? Why would he and his running mate run such a nasty campaign? Why didn't Bush campaign for him? Why did Cheney wait so long before endorsing his candidacy?

Looking at the red and blue scenario, I was surprised that Obama didn’t get one southern state. All the former slave owning territories –where black folk are still the majority, went to McCain. I couldn’t imagine any Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Texas, Virginia, Kentucky, or any other southerner voting for McCain.

Just after hurricane season, to see so much red in the area hit the worse each year by storms…I couldn’t help but wonder. Obama’s victory was so huge though, he could afford to loose a few votes to inexplicable occurrences like this.

I am so excited. I feel calm…it’s like I am coming in on a mellow tip too sublime for words. It’s just amazing! A black president. I have friends who had the brother’s photo on their altars, framed photos on their walls. I received prayers for him, meditations, lots of affirmations. Even now people are holding him and his family in prayer.

We have a life size model of him in our window.

In his acceptance speech, the chorus: “Yes we can,” became my new motto. Yes is the only word in my vocabulary today as I look forward to a renewed America, one King dreamed of we now get to live in. I can only hope that unlike the Civil Rights laws which benefited everyone more than my people that having a black man in office touches black people too, makes our sojourn a little easier than it’s been up to now 500 years after our ancestors feet touched the soil of a land where everyday was filled with sorrow.

Does Obama’s position as president-elect mean the end to racial profiling? Does it mean black men can get a cab in New York or Washington DC or San Francisco? Does it mean that black men are no longer listed as “Public Enemies?”

I don’t expect miracles, but as guns and rockets explode in Oakland and people dance in the streets…and grown men cry with joy at the news…miracles are a welcome addition to my active lexicon as our nation, our great nation rises to its full potential now that one of its native sons takes us in a more favorable direction.

Obama has an opportunity so many Bookers were denied (see Richard Wright's Native Son); let's see if the airplane he's in gets a chance to leave the ground and fly.


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