09/24/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

No Rest for a Black Man, Even on Martha's Vineyard

If anyone deserves a vacation, it's President Obama. The litany of disasters he's had to address since stepping into office reads like an end-of-days prophecy from the Hell Raiser series. Like him or not, there's no debating that the guy his been on his grind for eight months straight, attempting to affect all manner of change.

All this can be traced back to August 2001 when George W. Bush was also in his first term. It was during this month, eight years ago, that his incompetence landed our country back in the Dark Ages. Other than mending considerable amounts of fence in Crawford, Texas, he hadn't done much of anything. Our enemies saw the hole, they hit the gap and rammed 9/11 down our throats. The rest is world history.

Like many Democrats before him, President Obama has decided to take his vacation in my happy place. I spend two months per year in Martha's Vineyard but I generally forgo the summer in favor of the offseason. My friends are not the black elite or the wealthy media moguls who have made the island famous. Taxi drivers, longshoremen, school teachers, fishermen, waitresses, cops, landscapers, construction workers, pool salesmen -- these are the folks I do Beer Summits with... and we drink a lot more than one Offshore Ale per sitting.

All my friends have expressed their excitement about having the president on the island and it has nothing to do with political policy and everything to do with economics. These folks rely on a strong tourist season to make ends meet and the Bush recession has their finances in a rear naked choke. Even those who don't like the bailout can't argue with the fact that President Obama is a one-man stimulus plan. Where he goes, cash follows. That's positive micro economics and it demonstrates the kind of stimulus I need. If my homeboys are liquid, I don't have to pay for their beers all winter long.

On the flip side, a part of me wants the president to stay in his up-island compound and rest so he's fully recharged when he returns to Washington. I would gladly pay for cocktails this winter if it means he can make universal health care happen this fall. I'll take a public option with that shake, too. Frankly, the only thing worse than the health insurance companies is the private militia industry (Blackwater... Halliburton...) and I'd be elated to see them all go out of business. I'm as capitalist as they come. I'll put a kid's lemonade stand out of business if it means I can make a buck, but I draw the line at companies who burden the government and leech off the people without providing any product or service whatsoever.  Show me a citizen who has had a positive experience with his health insurance provider and I'll show you a Republican who isn't afraid of progress.

It speaks volumes about our country that we were able to temporarily put our fears about race in check and elect a black man to lead our country. However, it's also clear that a lot of Americans are still struggling with the fact that America is no longer an all-white nation with an all-white worldview. There's a simple explanation as to why people challenge the president's citizenship, bring guns to public rallies when the Second Amendment is not on the table and obstruct legislation that we all agree needs to be fixed, for obstruction's sake: They're afraid that their heritage is being minimized and that's a difficult position to rationalize when you've been top dog for 400 years.

How can anyone label a man who’s a minority a Nazi? When I think Nazi, my mind returns to white folks who have traditionally perceived themselves as better than the rest of us for no reason other than their skin is a different color. Mark Furman, llamame, homes. How the mulatto from Hawaii became the poster boy for Nazism is beyond logical explanation unless we acknowledge that fear is the engine behind the argument.

What is being played out publicly with this presidency is what black men have been saying since black men have been allowed to talk publicly in this country. Many of our fellow Americans have been brainwashed to believe that we cannot be trusted. In order to prove we're capable, honest and patriotic we must outperform our white counterparts at a clip that's 4-1. You juggle three balls, we have to juggle 12. You have a BA, we need two PhDs. You hit a home-run, we need to hit a grand slam.

Even if President Obama gets nothing done during his presidency other than stabilizing the economy, it's a tremendous improvement from the ignorant, lazy guy who preceded him. You know, that guy we allowed to lie, cheat and steal. The one who bankrupted the country and entered us into a false war that has made the world hate us. We gave that guy the benefit of the doubt. He didn't even have to apologize for his transgressions. We just accepted his excuses and allowed him to ride off into the sunset unscathed despite his tremendous failures to the American people. On the flip side, President Obama says it was stupid for a police officer to arrest a senior citizen in his own house who wasn't breaking any laws and right-wingers aren't happy without a fleet of mia culpas. If you consider that equal treatment, you must be the type of person who's used to making black people move to the back of the bus so you can sit down in the front.

When President Obama has the kind of leeway to screw up that we afforded the imbecile before him, then we can say we've made some major progress toward a raceless society. In the meantime, the most constructive thing he can do is enjoy a brief respite in my happy place because there's a lot more work to be done come September. I'll be diligently organizing beer summits on South Beach in Edgartown. The president will be juggling 12 balls minimum because, in this new America, you’re underperforming if you can only juggle three.

If you judge a man by his actions rather than the political posturing of the day, the message emanating from the White House is clear: Step up or you'll get left behind. At least you'll have health insurance.

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