Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Obamarama: Black America Watches with Pride…

January 27, 2009 by  
Filed under News, Weekly Columns

(Akiit.com) Did you see the look on Barack’s face at the press conference when Biden started joking about that judge messing up the oath?” My friend on the phone sounded downright euphoric in his amusement. “Brotherman wasn’t smilin.’ He kinda patted Joe on his back as if saying, ‘Joe, CHILL, man, we not playin’ it like that.’ I mean, the man [Obama] is just so badd [sic] it’s ridiculous.”

Yet another Obama conversation. The calls and emails come to me from family, friends, acquaintances, all wanting to talk about our new President. Every day. The excitement that cautiously began more than a year ago, ramped up six months ago and climaxed on Inauguration Day has morphed into giddy, unbridled exhilaration, as the world settles in to watch the Barack Obama show.

Black America is over the moon. That’s because, apart from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., our mightiest sense of collective, cultural pride has been generated by the achievements of names like Sammy Davis, Jr., Jackie Robinson, James Brown, Muhammad Ali, Aretha Franklin, Motown, Bill Cosby, Oprah, Tiger Woods–iconic entertainers and athletes whose remarkable legacies transcend the grip of America’s racism and prejudice.

Despite the quiet progress of blacks in academic and business sectors, O.J. Simpson’s 1995 acquittal and Denzel Washington and Halle Berry both winning Oscars in one night at the 2001 Academy Awards (he being only the second black man to win the Best Actor award after Sidney Poitier and she being the first black woman to win Best Actress) were the kinds of events blacks had to cling to as proof things were changing in America.

Until November 4, 2008.

In The Community, the word president in front of the moniker Barack Obama represents the ultimate checkmate. Prior to Obama, not even a younger generation of blacks, supposedly not bound by the scars of Jim Crow and freedom marches, dared to have such a dream.

And so all of us, young, old and in between now revel in the mother of all reality shows: the daily adventures of America’s first black President.

We are engaged and enthralled. We’re watching every move of First Lady Michelle, First munchkins Sasha and Malia, and the supporting cast of First mother-in-law Marian Robinson, First brother-in-law Craig Robinson and indefatigable Obama Special Assistant Reggie Love (don’t you just love that name?). We’re waiting on the First dog. We’re taking bets on whether it’ll come from a shelter or a private breeder.

Can the “I Won” T-shirts be far off?

We’re not interested simply because Obama is black. That’s not why we voted for him, either (Ask Jesse about this). We’re interested because we believe in him, and okay, because he is black. We know these people. Forgive our unmitigated mirth, but we’ve never had a president or First Lady look like people we went to school with.

“Did you see what he did today?” is the ebullient mantra of the Obama lover looking to discuss with anyone what Obama said, signed or made happen.

Out of the mouths of musicians, hustlers, actors, players, bus drivers, stay-at-home moms and others who previously never gave politics a second thought, I am hearing names like Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid. They don’t always know what these people do, but if Obama has interaction with them, they’re interested in knowing who they are. They take what they hear and see on cable and add a little Tabasco. The resulting political commentary is often priceless.

“And you know Ron ‘Manuel [Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel] is a tough, sneaky lil’ motherfucka,” the 72 year-old gentleman shining my shoes in Century City informs me. “See, you let a guy like that do your dirty work. You know damn well he tried to talk whatchamajigga [Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich] into takin’ that girl–what’s the girl name, the light skin girl crazy about Obama–they was gon’ make that girl senator, but they didn’t offer the Governor no dough, see. Obama ain’t no fool.”

Of course, it isn’t only black America that is in love with Obama. An official percentage of the rest of America is likewise smitten. Magazines find a reason to put him on the cover. “Entertainment Tonight” and “Access Hollywood” treat the Obamas as if they were Brad and Angelina.

However, it is the twinkling pride of the proverbial ‘hood, our unconstrained excitement–it takes me back to the black and white prime time of my childhood. If ever Miss Davis knocked on our connecting living room wall with a certain urgency, it only meant one thing: a colored person was on TV.

Instinctively, we’d go through the channels until we found a brown face. Might be Sammy or Nipsy Russell. Ella Fitzgerald. Wouldn’t matter who they were. The important thing is that they were Negroes. We didn’t see us on TV much.

Today, the call still comes, and I still run to the TV and surf the channels for a brown face. Just so happens he’s President of the United States.

Written By Steven Ivory

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