Last Tuesday was a historic event, one that many of my elders never thought they would see in their lifetimes. An African American became president of the United States. We are indeed blessed to have witnessed what could be the paradigm shift for which we have waited for so long. The fact that our president's inauguration took place the day after Martin Luther King's birthday makes it even more significant. The irony was not lost on me or some of my colleagues. Indeed, our country appears to be energized.
But I've always been one to think outside the box. So as I watched our country celebrate its 44th president, an unshakeable fear washed over me. It was a trepidation that made me feel uncomfortable and afraid for black folks. We threw inaugural watch parties and balls, and chartered trips to Washington, D.C. We arrived late for work, left early or didn't show up at all. We seemingly created our own new holiday to dance, cry or shout to the top of our lungs. A black man is the leader of the free world! But my question is: Did we bask too much? Are our reactions playing into some master plan?
This election inspired the disenfranchised to finally care about politics. It urged folks to finally let their voices be heard, by showing up at the polls and voting. But ask yourself, "What have we 'won'?" Are black folks supposed to believe that our lives will be better because our president shares our race?
Eight years ago, I didn't see this same revelry. Even Bill Clinton's inauguration lacked the pomp and circumstance of Obama's. Since November, I've heard too many black folks saying "Obama's gonna get me a job" or "Barack's gonna get me some money." And that scares the you-know-what out of me. If some of us (particularly the black folks who only voted for Obama because he was black) are celebrating because we feel as if some special "black" privileges are due, then we have already desecrated King's memory and Obama's future. We can't set the new president up with those kinds of expectations because it will only set him up for failure.
Let me give you a dose of reality: Nov. 5 and Jan. 21 were no different than the days that preceded them. If you were lazy and unmotivated then, you will be now. Obama's not going to knock on your door with a big sack of bailout money. I'm so afraid the honeymoon will end quickly once some of us realize that a black commander-in-chief is not a magic pill. Obama is but a man, a president. He has the same powers and duties as the last president. No more, no less.
The celebration should be over. Stop dancing, smiling, singing and partying. It's time to workharder than you ever have before. Show up on time, stay late and go the extra mile. Our president can't do it alone.
And that's the truth ... sho-nuff.
I am hoping and praying that more us will be inspired by Barack's example and pull up our britches and heed the maxim: early to bed and early to rise, work hard and organize ---because the struggle is far from over.