Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Livin' The Dream?

In one of the most famous speeches ever delivered, Dr. King in his "I Have A Dream" speech famously stated:

"I have a dream that one day that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character."

Today I stand on the shoulders of his and his contemporaries. Any success I enjoy today is in large part because of the cost they paid for taking a stand for freedom and liberty in the face of unadulterated racism and discrimination. There is no doubt in my mind that their sacrifice has opened doors for me that just 50 years ago, I would not have access to. Beyond me, blacks who enjoy huge amounts of fame and success today also do so because of the sacrifices made by Dr. King and other prominent blacks of his time who were what I would call "the tip of the spear".

Tiger Woods, no doubt, is one of those luminaries that has benefited from those aforementioned individuals like Dr. King who sacrificed so much. Multi-racial yes as we all are. His predominant ethnicity, because of his father, is Black. Again, do you think Tiger makes the imprint on golf and sports worldwide 50 years ago he makes today? Sadly, he finds himself currently in a very public and humiliating undoing because of the details of his marital "transgressions". I came across an interesting piece written by the AP titled, "Tiger's trouble widen his distance with blacks". I'd recommend it just because it's an interesting and provacative perspective on this unfolding story. The article supposes that Tiger's current predicament has alienated him from the Black community. One section in particular caught my attention. It is as follows:

"The color of one's companion has long been a major measure of 'blackness' - which is a big reason why the biracial Barack Obama was able to fend off early questions about his black authenticity.

'Had Barack had a white wife, I would have thought twice about voting for him,' Johnson Cooper said." (emphasis mine)

Maybe it's just me, but I find the quote I highlighted above extremely disturbing. Even more so than the paragraph before it talking to a long-established belief within the Black community, one I have personal knowledge of because my wife is White. Never mind that both of my parents are Black and that I've seen and experienced more instances of racism and bigotry than I care to remember. That is, as is often said, an entirely different story. What I can't get past is that we have an obvious instance where a Black man cops to voting for someone because of their perceived "Blackness". The President, for this person, passed the Black sniff test because of his Black wife. And therefore, he felt Mr. Obama worthy of his vote. Really? That's all it took? This decision didn't merit more thought, more gravity, more consideration than that?

I have friends, close friends, that feel very differently than I do about Barack Obama. They believe he is a great President, worthy of the office of POTUS and that under his leadership, America is in and will forever be in better shape. I think he's a weak President, has done damage to the prestige and weight of the office of POTUS and that America is weaker and the global community is on shakier ground because of his leadership - to date. No doubt I could sit down with my friends who see things differently from me and we could both articulate why we feel the way we do. I respect that...the ability to intelligently debate and discuss why they view the President the way they do. What I don't respect, and actually am disgusted by, is the willingness to vote or come to a decision that important with no intelligence or weight behind it. I have no doubt in my mind that many in the Black community, like Mr. Cooper quoted above, voted for Mr. Obama simply because of the color of his skin. It's appaling, especially in the light of Dr. King's speech and everything he stood and sacrificed his very life for and those like him. They didn't march, do sit-ins, go to jail, get lynched, get fire-hosed, have their houses burned, have their churches bombed and die just so 50 years later, the very people who have benefited from all of that work could just practice the very thing they fought against - judgment based on one's skin color instead of the content of their character.

They (Dr. King and the like) deserve better...the Black community deserves better...the world deserves better. Instead, the current plights that plague the Black community still - rampant unemployment, high rate of teenage pregnancy, high rate of violent crime, high rate of broken families, rampant fatherlessness, high drug abuse, high rate of incarcerations - will continue to do so as long as we are beholden to the idea that everyone else is responsible for our situation except us, that we're just victims of a larger crime still being committed against us.

The day we decide that no political party will hold sway over us and tell us we need the gov't to intervene on our behalf will be the day that changes our current destiny. The day we decide to collectively commit to thinking for ourselves without regard to petty partisan politics and culturally accepted schools of thought will be the day when history will be made. The day we decide that we aren't entitled to a handout or owed something by the gov't or any other entity will be the day that changes our current trajectory. The day we decide to expect greatness from ourselves because we feel like that's a reasonable expectation for us, the day Black men decide to collectively step up and deliver the goods for their families the way they were created to will be the day not only the Black race but the world will be better off.

That and nothing less will be the day when we, when everyone, will finally start living the "Dream".