Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Ordained by God…

June 23, 2008 by  
Filed under News, Politics, Weekly Columns

( Barack Obama has been ordained by God” to be our next president. Or so read the email from a friend of mine.

Of course, he is not alone in this opinion. Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr. (D-IL) is on record as suggesting that this Obama victory “is so extraordinary that another chapter could be added to the Bible to chronicle its significance.”

I remain unconvinced that the senator’s clinching the Democratic nomination is on a par with, say, parting the Red Sea or rising from the dead.(Obama’s promise in his victory speech that his administration will, “heal the planet” and calm the oceans notwithstanding.)I am, however, excited by the historical moment.

Our nation is standing on the precipice of history looking over into a brave new world; poised to take a historic leap and it does indeed seem as if the hand of providence is pulling the heavenly strings. I am at this very moment scanning the heavens for omens either good or bad: falling stars, birds flying backwards anything that may shed some light on the great mystery.

I am old enough to recall an America where the “N-word” was used more frequently by White folks than Black, Protests and race riots were staples of the nightly news and a Black family moving into a White neighborhood was a remarkable event. (I was the first Black student to attend my elementary school.)

My stories, of course, pale in comparison to those told by my parents who would recall the days when federal buildings were segregated. Black employees of our government were forced to use separate bathrooms, back entrances and lunch rooms to say nothing of being excluded from the halls of power. The doors to opportunity remained closed. Jim Crow was the rule and Black people were expected to “know their place.” It was a time when the Democratic Party was the home of White Citizen’s Councils and the Klan. Men like George “segregation forever” Wallace carried the banner for the Democratic Party.

Those days seem to belong to another time when in fact it was not all that long ago. It is a testament to the greatness not only of the American people, but of the central idea of our American founding that we have reached this milestone in so brief a time. There is no question that our journey has been grueling, painful and bloody, but as the historical clock goes it has been relatively short.

That is not to say that race and/or racism no longer play a role in our American lives. Indeed it is one of the great ironies of this moment that even as we are poised to deliver the death blow to white supremacy, race will be front and center in this upcoming general election.

Republican candidate John McCain’s words will be measured and analyzed against the “new language of race.” We have already been instructed that criticisms of Obama as elitist are in actuality code for saying he is uppity and to call attention to his inexperience is really to call him a “boy” and so forth. There will be pressure on Black voters to support Barack as a measure of one’s racial solidarity; White voters will be urged to purge themselves of racial guilt. Such ever present notions are exclusively about race and seem to cast a doubt on the real amount of progress we have made.

But I prefer to look at the glass as being half-full. In the end, we have demonstrated the moral veracity of the American ideal of the equality of mankind. I do not know if God has a hand in Barack Obama becoming president of these United States. I am however, certain beyond a doubt that there is a greater power guiding this great nation.


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