I have wanted to blog on this subject for quite sometime now and I couldn’t decide if it should be one posting or two. Since the audiences I want to target are similar I decided in the end to just do one. J There you have it, an unnecessary preface to a blog posting!
Is Barack Obama a blessing in disguise? I certainly believe so for a myriad of reasons including that his name just happens to mean blessing in Arabic!
Here it is a little over two months since the conclusion of a historic election cycle and as I reflect on these years’ events I have to look back in awe and with great pride and respect in my country and her people.
As a member of two of the groups I want to address today, it has taken a month plus to come up with the words, and it’s probably going to taken several more to grasp the lingering effects further.
To my dear Black, Muslim, or both brothers in sisters here and abroad, I believe we really have to sit back and analyze this election and what it means in the context of our history as well as our future.
Many of us in the beginning believed it would never happen, many more still never believed it would happen without incident, but surprise, surprise, it did happen and in a way that none of us collectively would have believed.
Think about it for a minute: In the United States of America also known as the Great Satan in some Muslim countries, also known as a racist, hold the black man down system by the man country here in America, we elected democratically (this part is important) a mixed-race (also known as black) guy with an Arabic name, with a black wife, from Chicago, who was raised by his grandparents and a single mother because his dad abandoned him when he was two!
If anyone had said this a few years ago they would have been laughed at!
A year ago few people believed this way possible, whether we openly said it or not there were various reasons for this belief and those who visited the black barbershops, salons, and or Mosques know what I’m talking about.
America with her history of race relations that saw centuries of slavery, Jim Crow, and systemic racism, prejudice, and discrimination shocked us all. America with her 9/11 inspired anti-Islam/Muslim rhetoric and actions in the Middle East that angered many Muslims shocked us all.
The irony of it all is that the majority of his supporters fit the demographic that neither group would have expected it to come from: White People. There I said it.
The two groups who should have been his strongest supporters initially were his harshest critics and many remained skeptical until the end: Black People and Muslims. Glad I got that off my chest.
It was not White people asking was he “black enough” or throwing out conspiracy comments like “whitey is trying to set us up” nope it was black people. It was only a year ago that Hillary Clinton had the majority of the Black vote for this very reason in my opinion.
Muslims we didn’t know what to think about this whole thing. Is he or isn’t he was the refrain. Our relationship was up and down at points, primarily because Obama didn’t visit Mosques or the infamous situation with the sisters in hijab at a campaign event, and you know what: I don’t blame him. Nevertheless, up until election day many a Muslim will tell you that there were still Muslims out there who were stating openly that it was haram to vote for Obama or vote in general.
But back to the topic at hand…
My point in this abridged history is to remind us where we are and how far we have come in such a short period of time.
There were no race or religious riots as some thought or hoped for, not fires, attacks, etc. Sure there were angry people and some minor incidents, but that would have happened regardless, as nobody likes to see their guy or gal lose you betcha! J In truth, had Obama lost, we may have seen those very things materialize.
Instead what we have witnessed is a sort of tranquil calm of people from all perspectives waking up to the reality that whether or not you voted or supported him, with all our problems we need to rally behind him in some fashion and hope and pray for the best.
Which is where I want to direct my commentary.
Given the absence of all that we thought would but didn’t are we as Black, Muslim, or both people willing to acknowledge that we may have just been wrong all along in our hyper sensitivity about America?
I mean I in no way am suggesting that America’s history isn’t what it is, but this whole Obama thing adds a largely difference perspective and narrative on America than it did a year or two ago.
For instance, Black people in general will never be able to look at their kids and feel secretly that they are lying when we tell them they can be anything they want to be. When my five boys look in the mirror everyday now and then look at the TV they will be able to see a President of the US that looks like them. I almost cried a week or two ago because my two year old saw an Obama sign and said “Obama” yet he cannot read. Even at two years old Obama has had such a reach that a two year old recognizes the branding of his campaign.
Muslims will we be ever to seriously say that there is a bias against Arabic names? I mean come on, Barack Hussein is the President! Many a Muslim unfortunately has changed their names from Ali to Al or Muhammad to Moe, trying to hide their identities to get ahead in this country.
The list is too numerous to fully describe the impact and dare I say blessing of Barack’s election.
His election to me as a guy who was raised by his grandparents with no mother or father, who grew up in the inner city, means that yes young black men, you too can make it. Even with all the challenges life has from welfare, to absentee fathers, etc. you too can work hard, get an education, and be President of the United States.
To the Muslim world currently abuzz with the shoe toss heard around the world, this election means that even with all her faults, America a country that did elect our current POTUS GW Bush, can eight years later elect to represent her DEMOCRATICALLY one from among her minority population and an alleged member of another.
For all that has been done by American citizens in the past that we shouldn’t be proud of, all of which remains discussion and fodder for her deepest and fervent critics, with the election of Barack Hussein Obama we have shown that we are still the greatest country on the Earth in my proud, humble, opinion.
Even with all her faults, name me another country that would elect a black first family when not even 40 years ago in the same country Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated and fire hoses and dogs were still used against black people? In less than a generation America went from that to this, think about it.
So my dear Black, Muslim, or both brothers and sisters, we have to reflect and think about this thing called America, believe or not it is ours too. Furthermore, when we look at White people and you know we did it, we should look at them a little differently than we did a year or two ago, because to their credit not that they had to prove anything, they sure showed us! I remember telling my wife after my first Obama canvassing how even at the age of 27 I was shocked to see elderly Whites stopping in to help volunteer for Obama. I called my grandfather just to make what I felt was a surprise announcement, for him it truly was. See many Blacks don’t like to admit we have our prejudices too.
What I would hope to see for my communities in the years ahead after this blessing I feel we have gotten is that we focus more on the internal and less on the external. I pray that we stop pointing the finger at whitey or the US Government so much (not that racism or institutionalized acts are magically gone) and start looking at our communities and the work we have to do and the responsibility for our own actions. Maybe just maybe we won’t make the excuse as much for the gangbanger, knocked up teen, as much as we did because daddy wasn’t home and you know how the system is. Maybe just maybe we stop pointing our finger at the West, Great Satan, and Zionists so much and start focusing on the human rights abuses of those currently in power and the local leaders who would keep our people illiterate and stuck in the past with no freedom of thought or expression.
Maybe just maybe if we look at the transformative example that the American people as a whole displayed with a simple vote in an improbable election, with a guy with the Audacity to believe, that we in turn will be able to use this as a catalyst to reform, repair, and heal our communities.