The candidacy of Senator Barack Obama has created more excitement and hopes during a presidential campaign then any other in recent decades. The fact that a man of Afrikan descent is the Democratic Party front-runner for president of the United States, with direct ties to Afrika, is not only amazing, but also historic. There have been other noted candidates:Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm, and civil rights advocate Jesse Jackson, but none have garnered the kind of excitement and participation, particularly among the youth generation, as Senator Obama. His campaign has almost reached the stage of being a phenomenon. Musical and film artists have created several works to tribute his candidacy; something unheard of in the political arena.
When he first announced that he was running, most looked at it as a pike dream, or maybe he wanted to get his name out there for a vice president nod, massage the field for the next presidential election, or just to see what he could do. The first indication that there may be something to his efforts was the crowds that gathered at his book signings. We knew he had special oratory talents when he gave a dynamic speech at the last Democratic convention, launching his effort to become a United States senator. The fact that he had that platform was an indication the Democratic Party saw him as a major player, although it is doubtful anyone could have estimated that he would later run for the presidency.
Now that he has evolved into a legitimate candidate, with a great possibility of winning, the big question keeps coming up, “Can a black man become president of the United States?” Since that question is on the table, statements such as, “He is beyond race,” “He erases the racial issue,” “He transcends race,” and other such comments are floating around the atmosphere as if he is going to magically eliminate all racial issues that have beset this country for centuries. It reminds one of the government/corporate assimilationist policy of earlier decades: ‘integration’, which evolved to ‘equal opportunity’, which todayis called ‘diversity’, generally meaning, in many cases, one black person hired or selected; or as some see it, science fiction.
Can Senator Obama change the racial landscape in America? The answer to that questionhas a dual response, yes and no. President Obama will be put on a pedestal. Those around him will do everything possible to avoid the issue of race. Government agencies, corporations and institutions, particularly those close to the government, may hire or promote other persons of Afrikan descent, especially receptionists, the first person seen when entering a building.
A general facade of racial harmony, like L.A. smog, will cover some social areas.However, as soon as a strong wind blows, due to a racial incident, racism/white supremacy will raise its ugly head again. It only takes another unarmed black man killed by the police, one more racial bias law suit, or the ‘n’ word taped to a college students dorm, to realize that America’s greatest social mental illness, racism, is very much alive. Reader comments after news or political reports about Senator Obama on the Internet will let anyone know that racism is alive and thriving.
One person, however significant, is not going to change centuries of color prejudice. If nothing else, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. taught us that. His experiment of attempting to eliminate racial injustices was successful in breaking down segregation in large urban areas, but unfortunately, still exists in smaller rural, backwoods areas, where the Civil Rights Movement never reached.
Senator Obama becoming president will be the greatest hope and the most visible symbol in the world that a person of color can reach the highest office in the land, and could set an example for others. Maybe that stanch, unyielding anti-black individual who never gave a thought of thinking favorably towards a person of Afrikan descent will take a second look. That person might even come to the realization that people of Afrikan descent are not inferior human beings, as has been taught in America’s highest institutions of learning.
On the other side of that coin, the little black girl or boy, when asked what do they want to be when they grow up, and answer, “President of the United States,” as one of my sons did, would have a living example of that being a real possibility. Further more, those adults of Afrikan descent who have always had an inferior complex in comparison to people of European descent may realize they have been misguiding themselves, and have been whole human beings all the time, inferior to no one.
Well, we will all have to wait and see what happens come November, and if the reality of a black man becoming president of the United States is something that can really happen, or were we all riding that train in the place of dreams called Fantasyland.
-Black History 4 Young People, the summer Saturday morning class for ages 12yrs. – 18yrs., taught by Dr. Kwaku, will begin June 14. Visit for details.

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