With Obama as our president, I feel like I've won the Academy Award for being an American. I feel like I've won the Nobel Peace Prize and the Pullitzer for best country. I feel inclined to jump up on every couch like Tom Cruise and burst out into song and speech. I've started carrying a small folded up sheet of paper with a short speech for practice.
I feel victorious, like I have emerged from a chaotic bloody battlefield and my enemies are all vanquished.
I want to organize community meetings and call in my home-owner association board members and give them presentations on how proud I am, perhaps even quoting segments of the "I have a dream" speech and the "Four score and seven years ago" speech, and maybe even toss in a dash of the "Yes we can" speech for spice. It just feels good all around.
What Obama achieved is what America achieved. Obama represents America. A long shot of a nation, an experiment in freedom and vision, an achievement that was not a a likely one in the initial moments of inception. Let no one say that we Americans are a perfidious people with false unreachable dreams available to only a few.
A large number of America's critics have been placated; my standup comic friend, for example, who has gone by the stage name "Cynic" for over a decade is having quite the identity crisis.
It's as if America is America once again. This election was a personal victory for our citizens. I honestly had friends and family calling me simply to congratulate me, and I in turn them, giddy, like birthday greetings and Christmas salutations. It's as if the holiday season has been extended to give us an extra month of ebullient gathering and joyous celebration.
And yet, there is a ying to every yang.
That thorn is the media, the journalists, TV anchors, and talk show hosts. They have unanimously trampled upon my mood of victory and pride. If I were a child dancing gleefully, they have barged in and plucked the candy from my hand in mid-hop.
What they've done is turn the election into a victory primarily for black Americans. The rest of us have become secondary revelers. During the Grant Park speech, every other camera shot was of Oprah and Jesse Jackson's tears. As if the tears of Maria Shriver and the guy whose shoulder Oprah was leaning on didn't matter as much. I soft of felt awkward for my own tears, as if maybe I had entered the wrong celebration, that I should come back when it was acceptable for the rest of us to celebrate.
I do not intend to downplay the horror of the black history in this country. That is not my point. Or, that is precisely my point.
This election was about all of America. It was about blacks, whites, immigrants, natives, men, women, young, and old. It was about Barack Obama. It was about every man and woman that voted for him. By focusing on black Americans and what an achievement they have made in this, it distracts and detracts from the rest of us.
I felt my Nobel prize and my Academy Award and my Superbowl ring lost in the mix. As I prepared to give my own victory speech as an American, they snatched the sheet of paper from my hand and gave it to my fellow black Americans to read. I'm pushed aside so that they can have the stage.
My tears of joy were just as loud! And I'm not falling for it.
You see, it's all a diversion tactic. The media is telling you that it's over, that segregation is done, and the racial glass ceiling has been shattered. The media tells us that anyone can become president in America, even a black man whose middle name is Hussein. I'm just not buying it.
Here is the flip side of your coin: Barack is not a descendent of the slaves that formed this country. His parents and grandparents and great grandparents were not part of the oppressed millions of Americans who have had to endure lynchings, slavery, cotton fields, the "N" word, and so on. He did not grow up in Compton and the slums of Chicago and the various other ghettos in this country where schools are en-armored with bulletproof windows and police roam the campus like Marines in Baghdad. He did not grow up in gang-infested streets with poison dealers on the corners ready to sell toxins to ten year old children.
Those Americans are still there, and they still have a racial ceiling just as high! They are still lynched. They are still labeled "angry black men." White people still get frightened when they pass one on the the street. They still face a major disadvantage when it comes to education.
Barack did a lot, but he is not very representative of black America, beyond the color of his skin. He has as much in common with black America as he does with any other non-white American. He is simply a non-white. "The man" still exists, blatantly, in every corner of our country. "The man" is a mentality that many of our American citizens are still trying to shake, to rise above. The evils of slavery, the heavy wake that still lingers is not gone, America. Do not be duped. The fight remains.
Barack was disadvantaged, I don't deny that, but it was sort of like the disadvantage Arnold Schwartzenegger has. They are both in a different level of disadvantage with the majority of America's population than someone like the CNN anchor Roland Martin. We are greatly influenced by where we come from. It's our history and our people's history, and its lingering influences that need to be reconciled with the vision we have for this country.
Let's make this an American celebration, and not a black or white one. Let us remember that the other half of "united we stand" is "divided we fall."
So congratulations, America. The fight remains, and there are miles to go before we sleep, and miles to go before we sleep.