GUEST BLOG: It’s not Enough …

Posted in Uncategorized by groffellison on June 6, 2008

GUEST BLOG: It’s Not Enough

By D.L. Chandler, CAAP Senior Fellow


So it’s finally done. Senator Barack Obama of Illinois has secured the Democratic nomination in what was a bitter yet historic fight to the end. However, much of the nation’s focus on this race underscored what is truly wrong with election cycle politics: it diverts attention away from the true needs of our country. We’re suffering from rising prices in gas and food, a crumbling economy and a war that serves little purpose beyond some arrogant form of symbolic toughness on the “bad guys”.  The only thing that seems to get any true attention during these ballyhooed election cycles are rallying citizens to (almost blindly) vote, tallying turnout numbers, focusing on voter demographics and a host of other esoteric matters that do not benefit the common Jim and Jane. In many an urban area that house African-Americans, Senator Obama’s nomination has become something of national holiday. This is not merely a man running for some vacant city council seat. This is for a leadership position of the highest order.


So why wouldn’t that be enough, you ask? Because as much information that’s available out there regarding civic participation and the electoral process, many in our communities remain largely uninformed to political matters that take place year round. There are people who don’t even know who their elected officials and representatives are in their respective cities. As former speaker of the House Tip O’Neil famously said, “All Politics Is Local” – I’ve always taken that phrase to mean that many of our more important political happenings are initiated on the state and local level. What happens regarding gay marriage in California ultimately will cause other states to rethink their thoughts on civil unions between same-sex partners. There are discussions happening on city boards and councils right now that will eventually come to light. This should concern us as Black people – especially during these very polarizing times. Many would say, “This is a time for celebration” and to that, the counter should be that it’s truly a time for work to be done. For all of the hype that surrounds and will continue to frame Barack Obama’s ascension as the first Black candidate from a major party, it should further highlight how much harder we’ll have to prove ourselves.


We will now have to explain our swelling black pride and our lingo and, given the so-called “knuckle bump” Michelle Obama gave her husband before his speech in St. Paul this past Tuesday, what “giving dap” means to our white counterparts. We will have to answer silly questions about “our” churches and if we have a pastor like Rev. Wright. We will have to proudly display our religious affiliations and continually be under some unintended microscope. This is why it’s important to be as informed and prepared on your stances and beliefs. We need to be uncompromising but also open-minded to the change Senator Obama’s campaign is built around. If we want this change to happen in our communities, one Black man’s nomination is just the start of it. To truly shift the ways of old, we all must become the change we desire. We all have a responsibility to become more astute and aware of all the various issues that affect us. This isn’t to say that those clueless (Whites and others) people who still believe Black people climb trees for fruit and stick bones in their noses don’t exist. But we do owe it ourselves to not let anyone peg us into comfortable little holes for their own comfort. Let us use this moment to inspire not just young Black men but all young people of all hues and backgrounds who had a dream and went after it. Let us look to unify all human families of the planet Earth by letting go and shattering the long held assumptions of each other. This is a huge and epic moment, but it is nearly not enough.


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