Where were you on November 4, 2008 when Barack Obama was elected President of the United States? For some this day will live in infamy, but every time I think of it, I smile immensely. Why? Because for the first time in my life I found myself lost for words, dreaming of infinite possibilities and a brighter future. The United States had elected its first African American president. Wow!
I had recently graduated with a doctorate in education from Jackson State University, and I was in the process of looking for a tenure track position. I was determined to make my mark on the world and fulfill my dream of becoming a college president. That day, I made a pledge to work diligently to change the world instead of letting the world change me.
I also made a pledge to support then President-elect Obama in any way that I could, and from looking at the election results, it seemed that over half of the country felt the same way. On November 4, 2008, we partied like it was 1999 and reveled in our collective victory. It seemed as if the mood of the country shifted, and because of this America would never be the same.
That night, I remember calling family and friends to share this momentous occasion with them. We all felt overjoyed by his election, as if he were a part of our immediate family or inner circle. For African Americans, the possibility of the country electing a black president had previously seemed foreign, and many of us never believed that it could happen in our lifetime. Now we could tell our children that they could be anything they wanted to be and actually believe it.
Prior to this day, it was commonplace for comedians to perform skits and tell jokes depicting what would happen if America elected a black president. The popular opinion was that he would be assassinated before his inauguration. This, of course, alluded to America's hang-up on race and the extreme hatred that many people have for African Americans.
Somehow on that day, those apprehensions subsided. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s dream had become a reality, and we heard the spirits of our ancestors screaming, "Hallelujah!" We were on our way to realizing his blessed community, where people of all races, ethnicities, religions, sexual orientations, and social statuses could live in peace and harmony.
To be honest, it seemed that people of other ethnicities became nicer to us overnight, as if a new world order was beginning, and they wanted to be on the winning side. Companies began to contemplate ways to make their workforce more diverse and capitalize on a purportedly post-racial America. I remember watching CNN and thinking, "Is it me or does it seem like someone says post-racial America every 10 seconds?"
Now let's fast forward to the here and now. Where did the hope and optimism that we had on November 4, 2008, go? Nowadays, if you look the word "skepticism" up in the dictionary, you might see a photo of President Obama looking back at you with a frown. Now don't get me wrong, President Obama is my guy, and I have supported him since day one. You see, when I give my loyalty to someone, I give it for the long haul. My loyalty is coupled with the realization that, although I may not always agree with the president, my faith tells me that he has the country's best interest at heart. That's enough for me.
If you believed in President Obama on Election Day, when did he lose your trust? Was it when he announced that he supports gay marriage? Was it due to his inability to speak to and act upon the issues that affect your group? Do you feel as though his policies haven't made a difference in your life? Whatever it is, get over it and realize that being the president of the United States is a difficult job, and in spite of this fact, President Obama has made great strides.
I said it before, and I will say it again; a lot of people seem to think that President Barack Obama works for them, and when they don't get the reaction they want from pulling his strings they call him a puppet to somebody else. The president has a whole lot of work to do and a great many needs to tend to, so stop making his job harder by acting as if he should work for you and you alone.
It seems we have forgotten that when Barack Obama assumed the presidency, he was charged with resolving the nastiest set of problems and issues of any incoming commander-in-chief since Franklin D. Roosevelt took office on March 4, 1933. What did he do in response? He immediately jumped into action and orchestrated an unprecedented stimulus package, the auto bailouts, and a major health care bill.
Under President Obama's watch, America is experiencing something that it hasn't experienced in ages - genuine progress. Although we have many more miles to go, we have to remember that Rome was not built in a day. The issues that continually plague our country took decades to develop and will probably take several more decades to fix.
All I'm asking is that you remember the dream that you fell in love with all those years ago. All I'm asking is that you remember the enthusiasm that you felt on November 4, 2008 and realize that the dream is still possible; it just may take longer than we anticipated. In the end, I hope you decide to give President Obama one more term to engender a brighter future for you and your loved ones.
Follow Matthew Lynch, Ed.D. on Twitter: www.twitter.com/lynch39083
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