I am a baby boomer – that generation of people that outnumber the rest of you folks. We grew up with civil rights and anti-war protesting and counter culture movements. Today we are skeptical about those who wish to claim the mantle of leadership for cultural change. Race is always important.
We loved Martin Luther King, Jr. We have tired of Jesse Jackson. We never did like Al Sharpton. George Wallace embarrassed us. Hank Aaron filled our hearts. Tiger Woods is a hero of historic proportions. And along comes Barack Obama.
The issue of his race is delicate in this moody country. Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton ran for President – but not to be President. They were single issue candidates. They ran so they could big-shot around and act important. They were running for the mantle of black leadership.
Barack Obama is running for President of the United States of America. How cool is that?
Black folk and white folk alike are watching. We are looking for legitimacy. Obama has to be legitimate on three fronts:
Obama has to own his race without allowing his race to be the single issue. Black folks don’t want to elect a Black man who is trying to act like a white man – that caricature is something we have unfortunately seen in the past. They have been sold out before.
Obama has to assure white voters that his charisma and sense of hope are real – that he is not carrying the flag for Jackson or Sharpton. Obama has huge support in the white community because we believe in him. We see him in the same manner that we see Tiger Woods and Bill Cosby – men who are successful because of the content of their character.
Obama has to overcome a racially sensitive media. They are quick to play the race card and that hurts Obama in a variety of manners. We do not want to see the old victimology whining of Al Sharpton; and we don’t want to see someone who is insensitive to the issue. We, black and white, are looking for someone to transcend that deep divide of racism. Obama has to be careful not to take the bait of Chris Matthews. The media folks like to blame the Clintons – but the racial issue is a product of media hype by the good old white men who run the place. They are trying to minimize Obama as being merely a racial candidate.
Sidney Poitier, Bill Cosby, Hank Aaron, Michael Jordan, and Tiger Woods have transcended the racial divide in entertainment and sports – it is time to wrap up the deal.
Win or Lose – I think Obama has forever changed the face of politics. We should all be grateful; Obama has closed the deal.