A Conversation With A Black Man


Then he spoke to the children of Israel, saying: “When your children ask their fathers in time to come, saying, ‘What are these stones?’  then you shall let your children know, saying, ‘Israel crossed over this Jordan on dry land’; for the LORD your God dried up the waters of the Jordan before you until you had crossed over, as the LORD your God did to the Red Sea, which He dried up before us until we had crossed over, that all the peoples of the earth may know the hand of the LORD, that it is mighty, that you may fear the LORD your God forever.”

That’s the passage from Joshua 4:21-24 NKJV.

As our chaplain said to us last night as we had stood around in a circle trying to calm down from the high that was 11:00 PM EST, “Welcome to Canaan.”

However, our chaplain gave us some stipulations:  “But as we enter Canaan let us remember to not take from the inhabitants what’s not ours; as we enter Canaan, let us be good stewards of the land.”

I just got off the phone with my father after I heard Michael Baisden ask for children to call in if they saw their fathers cry last night.  I realised I at least owed him the privilege and honor to speak man-to-man about the rumor that there was a man supposed to be moving into the White House who looked like me and him.  But, I should have been prepared for his response because of last night.  Of course my mother called and I talked to her, and I could hear my father in the background making comments here and there, but he never asked to speak to me, and I never asked to speak to him.

My mother knows both of us.  Often times we tell my mother to say something to the other or ask a question for her to relay to the other and that didn’t happen last night.  And weirdly enough, my mother never asked “Do you wanna talk to your father?”

So, again, I shouldn’t have been surprised with the conversation we had just now:

My father, essentially told me that he wasn’t all that damn impressed.

My words not his.  But still, he uttered the sentiment that he was happy for President-Elect Barack Obama (alright, I felt a chill just writing that–LOOK AT GAAAAWWWWD!) and said he would have been real disappointed if Senator John McCain had won.  That I truly believe, a lot of people would have been disappointed.  I think that emotion would have been there even if it had been Hillary Clinton who won last night.  I asked my dad point-blank how did he feel as a black man and he actually didn’t answer the question point-blank “As a black man….” but instead emoted a feeling that he’s more interested in the spiritual aspects of life than he is in the physical.

Well, that left me scratching my head.

I mean, I was bawling like a baby just trying not to have the Rev. Jesse Jackson or Sherri Shepherd ugly cry.  As a young black male, I didn’t think I would see this day until I was about 70 years old, but it happened in my lifetime and it happened relatively early in my lifetime.  So to hear my dad, a 61 year old black male, born and raised in rural Louisiana to the parents of illiterate sharecroppers–I mean my dad remembers going to the cotton fields of the 1950’s and picking cotton–actually say he wasn’t moved was not what I expected to hear from him.  I expected to hear some long opine about the joys of God to allow him as a black man to see “himself” in the White House. 

How mistaken was I.

What I heard my father ultimately say (and I’m sure he’ll call to correct me when he reads this blog) was that all of this with Obama was nice, but he said verbatim “our reward is in heaven.”  I got from that–I could be wrong–but that this was his admonishment that we still have work to do as a people.  Not just as black people, but as humanity.  My dad was aware that this was a black man who was elected, but also a white man as well.  I think my dad pointed out a fact that is often overshadowed–as much black as he is, the man is half white, raised by white people.  My dad went on to give a very interesting take on this:  he said that God allowed for him to be raised by whites so that he could think like them, unlike a Jesse Jackson or an Al Sharpton (who he made sure he told me that both he and my mother voted for in the respective primaries).  But also that God allowed for his Nigerian father to have skin color like us.

I thought that was very interesting.

Frankly, I don’t know what to do with that.  My father kind of left me in the lurch.  But by the same token, I fully see where he’s coming from and I think it proves even more the point that blacks aren’t monolithic.  I mean, I couldn’t have come up with that response from my father in a dream.  From one young black man to another, I respect my father’s point of view on this and I daresay that he’s probably not the only black man in America who feels the same way.

Quite frankly, I more or less agree with him.   Perhaps I’m just a more emotional creature and I’m much more driven by my emotions than he probably is, but seriously, I almost fell out with people this morning at breakfast (check my next post) because I said “Alright, the election was nice, but my plight from day to day has not changed from November 3rd to November 5th.  There’s still work to be done.”

Keep it uppity and keep it truthfully radical, JLL

4 thoughts on “A Conversation With A Black Man

  1. I was wondering what Mama and Papa Uppity had to say about this one…Are you going to speak at all on Mrs. O? I’m waiting anxiously for the bloggers to start praising our First Lady-elect!

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