Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Black, Republican — and voting for Obama…

May 12, 2008 by  
Filed under News, Politics, Weekly Columns

(Akiit.com) A conversation made her mind up

I am a black Republican. I have a confession to make. I am an Obama “girl.” Most black Republicans who support John McCain won’t tell you this — but if Barack Obama is the nominee for the Democratic ticket, they will go into the voting booth in November and vote for Obama.

In 2005, when I was in Chicago on business, I attended NFL Hall of Famer Richard Dent’s annual foundation fundraiser. My business associate, also a Republican and former executive director of the Massachusetts Republican Party, said he wanted me to meet a friend of his who was going places.

His friend was Sen. Barack Obama. All I knew about this light-skinned, cute boyish face-looking, kind of tall, lanky man was his great speech at the Democratic national convention and his position against the war in Iraq.

When we met, I identified myself as a Republican and began to discuss with him the work I did around the world on behalf of our government. I also told him I served President Bush as an appointee and had known him since 1998.

Obama nodded, taking it all in. He asked a few questions about my international experience. He asked me to be in touch with his office. When we finished talking, I walked away like a fan who met her favorite rock star after a concert. Giggly, I said to myself: “Yes, he is in the wrong party, but wouldn’t that be great if he ran for president someday?”

Watching Obama run for the presidency from the other side has been hard for me. I support most of the Republican platform. However, the most difficult thing for me has been to watch this black man fight to prove his legitimacy to become president of the United States.

It is often very emotional for me. When he is attacked racially, I think of the times my father, grandfather and other close black men have been attacked, and I take it personally. When he first struggled through his explanation about his relationship with the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr., I felt the emotion. I knew this would not be good enough for white America. He always has to balance his blackness, and this is hard. Obama, like many of us, still has to go above and beyond to prove himself.

Most blacks won’t admit this to the average white person, but Obama’s fight, we feel, is our fight. Proving his worthiness on a daily basis has become our fight to prove our worthiness.

When Wright pulled the old “crab in the barrel” tactic that most black folks know all too well, many of us felt righteous indignation because we knew he knew better than to play that “pull down another black man” game.

We also felt worried: Could this be the end of the dream Martin Luther King never talked about in his speech — the first black president?

Nearly all blacks knew that when Wright went “gangsta” on Obama, the senator had to retaliate, showing us, white and brown America, that he was not soft.

Ironically, while many of us were quite satisfied in what Obama had to do denouncing his former pastor, we still felt the embarrassment that the attack by Wright and the Obama response was a symbolic form of black-on-black crime — something I’m sure Wright has spoken out vehemently against during his liberation ministry.

Obama’s run for the White House is redefining the image of the black man globally. He is changing past stereotypes that have haunted them. When I mentor young black males, I now tell them to “Baracratize.” They can do this without losing their identity. Obama’s run might signify the end of the old-guard leadership of the Revs. Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, who have championed the cause of blacks while making lots of money for doing so.

Jackson and Sharpton have been quiet as church mice during Obama’s trials and tribulations. It is probably for the better.


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