Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Trails of Tears Unless...Looking Back and Ahead #3

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

I'm sorry. I tried to buy into it - a little.

I wanted to believe that having a Black president would have a different effect on Black America, one that would wake the masses of Black people up in order to change the conditions of our communities.

It didn't happen. I kinda blame Obama. He could be a stronger leader that isn't afraid to be seen as a Black man - and yes, even a Black president.

At the same time, I'm not delusional. I know that Obama should not have been expected to single-handedly change the lot of Black America as many Black people seemingly expected at the end of 2008. I did expect, however, Black people to rally around themselves as much as they rallied around the first Black president in order to change the conditions within the communities.

If President Obama sold Black America false hope with his historic race, Black America lied to itself when it said that change would come as a result of the Hawaiian becoming the 44th president.

And if there is more to come in 2010 of this type of rhetoric, we can expect to bury more African-American children - both figuratively and literally.

The pride and inspiration for having the first Black president seemingly left the Black community roughly 2 minutes after President Obama took the Oath of Office. Being in Washington in January 2009, I was shocked to see the waves of people that bore the cold winter air of the Inauguration without sticking around long enough to hear the president's words after taking the oath.

From there, I was saddened to see the lack of active pride that came through the Black community to make appropriate changes by the time Black History Month rolled around.

Where were the marches to institute peace in our communities? Where was the outrage to fight for better schools now from the current school structures without the need to dump additional millions into a system that's broken? Where were the cries for accountability when President Obama cut money to poor Black students for primary and secondary education? Where were the cries of outrage when Derrion Albert and others feel dead needlessly? Aside from some successes as the 40-Day Fast for Our Future, there was relative silence from the Black community - and notably from the White House - during a historic first Black History Month with an African-American president.

This snowball towards a tragic status quo merely continued throughout 2009.

All of the partisan fighting by President Obama has been met with a willingness by Democrats to overlook the plight of Black Americans concerning health care, education, and jobs. Even as the Congressional Black Caucus and others have slowly come around to criticize the administration's failures to specifically address these issues, the crime really comes from the group of Americans that bought into a politician's historic rise without capturing the momentum as a chance to be historic themselves.

And that doesn't fall on any one politician - or president. It falls on us as African-Americans.

If the record of 2009 shows us anything, it is this: we can ride history, we can watch history, but the ways that we have taken over the past 4 decades will not lead us to making any significant historical changes for everyday Americans without the efforts of those Americans in the history-making events around us.

There are now Americans that can claim a Black city councilman, governor, and president, yet we continue to have African-American males going to jails at record and tragic numbers. We continue to see a waste of American talent as children succumb to substance abuse, school dropout rates, and premature death due to failure of leadership from adults and community leaders. The Obama Effect was supposed to be that "silver bullet" that allowed Black America to take that next step towards true equality in this country. It was supposed to be that boost that allowed Black people to contribute at a higher level to close the achievement gap in school, the math and science gap in the world, and the economic gaps we endure as a nation in the global economy. So far, not of those things have happened as status quo Black America has engulfed the pride of January 20 with a persistence to take a broken approach and continuously apply it to a broken community.

President Obama broke the mold as a candidate in order to create a new reality in American politics. It is sad that Black America hasn't taken a similar approach to break the mold of approaching urban blight issues from the past 40 years of Great Society politics and civics to create a new (and better) reality within American urban centers. Unless if Black America sidesteps its collective fear to approach the unknown, cast aside the stereotypes of the past, and resurrect the courage of past generations, we will continue to walk a 21st century trail of tears that is marked with premature death, unnecessary disease, and lack of education - all endured while watching the height of the Civil Rights Movement epitomized in the White House while the 2nd worst days of Black America play out elsewhere throughout the nation.

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