I was mentioning to my mother just the other day that the African American voting bloc was looking for one good excuse to vote for Barack Obama and the Iowa caucuses gave them that excuse. Black people in this country were sick and tired of the “symbolic” candidate much in the form of Rev. Al Sharpton or Carol Moseley-Braun (whatever happened to her) both in 2004. Now granted my parents and I endorsed Al Sharpton (and that when I began to listen to what Rev. Sharpton had to say and no longer viewed him as a clanging gong, but rather a viable asset to the African American community), I too was tired of always having a black candidate run and bring up the black issues and yes, these were issues that specifically spoke to my needs and my people and my community, I was at a loss because ultimately, my candidate was not going to win.
But, someone must have received a pneumatological facsimile to suggest Barack Obama to speak at the 2004 Democratic National Convention and suddenly after the Liberman’s and Joe Biden’s of the day had sounded the death knell to the Democratic Party, this guy with a funny name with ties to the South Side of Chicago got up and spoke and the room was totally electrified and the rest has really been history. Obama’s name has been on the lips of many since his election in the fall of that year to the U.S. senate and definitely now as he is a contender for the Democratic nomination.
That being said, what Obama symbolized in the Iowa caucuses and is expected to do so in both Nevada caucuses and the South Carolina primary (because of the endorsement by the food services union and their being allowed to caucus in the casinos and because nearly 50% of South Carolina’s electorate is African American) is that he is not an old guard black politician. He’s not a polarizing character and THAT’s what young African American voters like.
Now, because I went to a mixed high school, roughly 1/3 black, 1/4 white and the rest divided between Latino’s (mostly Puerto Rican and Mexican) and Asians I had a much different perspective on race relations to that of my mother who went to an all-black public high school on the South Side of Chicago in the 60′s or my dad who went to an all-black private Catholic school in rural Louisiana in the 60′s. In fact, often times my parents would snipe in disgust because I was always “coming to the defense of white people.” Till this day, facts are facts and reality is your reality; one should be slow to force one’s reality on another and then pass it off as fact. Hmmmm, I could stay right there for a while couldn’t I?
But I digress.
Because of my more motley perspective on things, its real hard when I hear a Andrew Young or a John Lewis say such antiquated things about Barack Obama’s candidacy–reality being touted as facts. I’m not as quick to say “that’s two people’s funeral I will be happy to attend” as one of my colleague opined to me in private, but comments like that do make me want to label these two as anachronisms who maybe need to “go somewhere and saddown.” I believe this mindset of many elders is the result of entitlement and tradition and outright jealousy–three lethal poisons to this modern movement. When they speak, they speak out of context for me and my generation; based on what me and my generation have dealt with, they frankly have not earned the right to speak on my behalf.
They are out of touch with my generation (and frankly I consider myself born inbetween generations being an ’84 baby). Andrew Young believes that by invoking the name of Dr. Martin Luther King that he has identified himself with the black community–not so if one makes such inane statements. And if I hear during the Al Sharpton Show one more time, John Lewis carry on about “bubbas in a bar of soap” I’m going to scream–when was the last time any of these two engaged in dialogue with people of my generation? When have the availed themselves to dialogue with my generation to in fact listen to our concerns and not take it as a time to revel in their own glory, and use it as a time to recall and recant “when I organized this march” or “when Dr. King and I”?
So, when a Barack Obama comes onto the scene without any ties to this old guard of politics and does what the old guards have told us little young black kids “You can be whatever you want to be. You can be President of the United States” then they balk and pull a John Lewis “For me personally, I have a long association with the Clintons and I’m very loyal to my friends,” which for me is a cop-out. I suggest that the Andrew Youngs and the John Lewises (and dare I say my friend of the daytime talk radio Rev. Al “the do” Sharpton) of politics are simply jealous because Barack Obama has suceeded where they have failed.
By this far in the game these old guard black politicians are equally as corrupt and are mere charlatans over the black community. (And yes I’ve voted for some old guard politicians–in fact I voted for one yesterday here in my 4th ward in Chicago [stay tuned for upcoming blog on Chicago's early elections: Vote Early, Vote Often] and I’m quite sure about their charlatanism, but I’d rather see my money go back to black people, quite the same way other ethnic groups keep the money in their own community–I’m just doing my part to help the brotha out.) So, I guess when you run on a ticket of it not being business as usual, I guess politicians begin to wonder where their money will be coming from.
But the people wonder, where do the politicians loyalties lie.
We should be free to vote our conscience–and it appears the youth’s conscience is Sen. Barack Obama!
That being said, wouldn’t it be something wrong if we had George H.W. Bush for four years, Bill Clinton eight years, another Bush for eight years and then another Clinton for possibly four, maybe eight years?
Keep it uppity, JLL