I am ecstatic with the swearing in of President Obama! I believe this is an important moment in history that is pregnant with possibility. The fact that no child can ever again not know that it is possible for a Black man to be the president is monumental. The fact that we have a beautiful example of a Black family for the World to see is a gift. These among many other blessings stand alone.
I do not, however, believe that Martin Luther King’s dream has been recognized. I am not interested in a CNN poll that tells me that 69% of African Americans believe that “the dream” has been achieved. When I see a number like this, I can only think that we only paid attention to one part, of one speech, and do not know the true history of what King was fighting for before his assassination. Economic justice, pursued in the form of the Poor People’s Campaign, became a movement deferred shortly after King was assassinated. This was a movement against poverty; and, was part of the “second phase” of the Civil Rights movement. This was a dangerous idea because poverty crosses all racial and cultural lines; and, King invited everyone to join. When you begin to get everyone to come together for a common cause, then you are a true threat to the corrupt foundations of our society. Obama is powerful in this way; in many ways, he is supported across the board.
Watching Obama take that long walk before he came out into the cold day to be sworn in was powerful. I am sure it was powerful in every classroom, community center, jail, office, living room, and on every street corner that had a public television. All day the celebration, the feeling of having been instrumental parts of facilitating change; people smiled and felt connected. I am not here to rain on anyone’s tea party. Obama being president does not make this a post-racial society. Neither does his being president automatically reduce the number of Black and Brown men and women in jail; dismantle the prison industrial complex; turn heat on in classrooms; properly educate children; stop police brutality; eliminate poverty; nor, stop gang violence. There is so much for us to do! People are trying to save children today, the same way that they were trying the day before.
I do not want to see us become complacent. I do not want us to simply rest the future of our children and communities on the back of one brilliant man. It is not that I do not think that President Obama is capable of being an effective and inspiring leader. President Obama has a blank slate with me; I am open and receptive to whatever he may offer; at this point. It is more that poverty and the impacts of it from a holistic perspective were not addressed in Obama’s campaign. It was John Edwards who talked of poverty by calling it by its name; attempting too provide faces for the unwanted and unseen. Somewhere along the line, everything became about the middle class as if there were no economic social status below that. I know it is often difficult to face the truth; but, the increase in numbers of those living in poverty, here and around the World, continue to rise at an alarming and heartbreaking rate. Many people are giving more than their fair share; many people are giving nothing at all; and then, there are others of us who could be giving more. I am speaking of a collective ‘we’ and ‘us’.
Children are the future of any resistance and revolution; this is why my focus is on them. It did not become our responsibility to pay more attention to them on Tuesday, January 20, 2009 at 12:05 PM. I applaud every one who feels inspired to work towards change; but, please don’t tell me that “the dream” has been achieved. Because we have been oppressed and repressed for so long we are often apt to accept an incomplete offering of justice. Empires have been built and destroyed at the hands of one man. President Obama seems to be a wonderful man; full of desire, purpose, honesty and compassion. I will call his name out if true change does not effectively occur, just as everyone should. I did not vote for Obama because he is Black and I will not quiet my voice if I don’t like where we are headed because he is Black either. I am not loyal to a political system or party that still allows slavery in the form of imprisonment; I will not be so dedicated to Obama, or any man, that I will blindly follow him with disregard too what I can see with my own eyes. I am willing to do my part.
It is our responsibility to better our communities every single day. If you are one who recently became inspired, I am excited for you! If you are someone who has committed their life and has been re-inspired, I am excited as well! I believe that there is a collective sense of purpose and I am committed to being an active participant! This is simply a reminder that it is only through collective participation that we can turn dreams into reality. This is simply a pledge from me to remain to be involved. There was never just one dream; there is infinite space for dreams to be created and manifested into destiny. President Obama is a piece of healing; a piece of hope; a piece of change. As Obama has continuously stated, the change is all of us.
I want to honor those who work every day to save our children and our communities; who fight for economic justice; who rail against globalization and privatization; who offer tangible forms of resistance and revolution; who riot against police brutality; who hold children in their arms as they hide from bombs; and, who breathe hope into the children who will be the future dreamers. Time will show us the worth of us as a collective; and, the worth of one man.
p.s. this only has caps cuz i originally wrote it at work lol