History has an uncanny way of offering us the ability to write it and this is something we seem to forget at times as we struggle to comprehend the actions of others. History comes sweeping up behind us with all that has come before, all that is known including our mistakes, our triumphs, our struggles. While we work so hard to try to forget our own ugliness, there are times when we are not allowed to forget, times when we are called forward, called to do what we have thus far failed to do. History gives us yet another chance to do the right thing, another chance to let justice rise.
Rise against our ignorance. Rise against our hatred. Rise against our fear. Some try to make room for it, others remain bound by their own prisons, unable to let go of what they foolishly think protects them. Hate does not protect you. Fear does not protect you. Shared ignorance does not protect you. The only way to protect yourself and what it is that you love in these times is to let justice rise.
Justice seeks out and finds those called to carry it forward. History provides the stage, the chosen called to decide. They must decide to fulfill the mandate fate has cast for them, or pass. But first, those chosen must own their place, own their call to a destiny they may have never expected.
Sometimes I wonder just how hard it was for you, President Obama, to suppress who you truly are so that you might succeed in a white world. How long did it take you to acquire that protective cloak of otherness? Or were you born with it? Did your parents wrap you in the swaddling cloth of denial, praying that somehow, someway, you would overcome the hand of genetic fate? Or did you slowly, year by year, become the consummate actor in the game of race? Today, as I witness time fold back into 1963, I ask myself: Who is Barack Obama? Where is Barack Obama?
I was not born black. I was not born poor. I was not born in an urban wasteland. I cannot speak to that which I do not know, only a fool would try. But I was raised to remain congruent with my identity, my own history at all times, under all circumstances. Though there remain moments when I wish I was anything but a white girl from the suburbs, that is what I am and will always be. I am a white girl from the suburbs when I am in the back streets of Detroit. I am a white girl from the suburbs when I am in the impoverished rural wastelands. I am a white girl from the suburbs when I am going through security. I am a white girl from the suburbs when that officers holster gets un-clipped. I function and work to leave my mark on this world in the ways fate allows me. My mark may be minor, it may be infinite. It may be lasting or it may be fleeting, but I will give it all I have until my very last breath.
You, Mr. President, have been dealt another hand. You, by whatever road, are this country's first African-American President. Like the women who carved out a path for me as a minority so too has your path been carved out. Carved by blood, by rape, by torture, by families torn asunder and, inch by inch, by hope. Hope that one day, a leader that understood would come. One who understood not in his mind, but in his blood, in his bones. A leader who would come and command the stage, if but for a little while. You sir, are on that stage. The time is now, fate has called you. As a man, as an African-American, the time has come for you to finally show your true self and to hell with anyone who has suggested you be anything other than what you are in order to succeed. History has chosen you to be here at this moment. It is your mandate to answer it with everything inside of you, everything going back generations. Everything that has converged in who you are now, where you stand today.
Our brothers, our sons, our fathers are being slaughtered in the streets. The law has become lawless. Michael Brown's blood and the blood of countless others cannot be spilled in vain, not now, not with a man like you, finally, on the stage.
Mr. President, I ask you, what will your legacy be?