Now that Barack Obama has been elected president of the United States of America by a substantial majority of the population; now that this young African American has overcome every obstacle and barrier that could possible be put in his way; now that he has successfully managed to scale the peak of political ambitions; now that he has proven to the satisfaction of a majority of the American people that he is the best person to lead the greatest industrialized country in the world at a time when it is undergoing the most challenging times of its existence; now that Barack has defied every myth that our society has perpetuated regarding the inherent limitations of the African American genome; now that for the first time in history residents of the White House on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C., will not be White; now that an entirely new era will be ushered into American leadership; now that the country will be led by a descendent of those brought here shackled in chains in the hulls of ships to do the grudging work of settling this country; now that Air Force One and all its amenities will be the exclusive possession of the Obama family; now that the entire Armed Services personnel will have to stand at attention and salute when Obama is in their presence; now that nations throughout the world must accept him as leader of the most influential nation; now that the Obama triumph should obfuscate every stereotype perpetuated on his race; now that the pioneers of the long and arduous Civil Rights Movement will no longer have to say, “I never thought that I would live to see the day”; and now that, after 45 years, Barack Obama has been unveiled as the second coming of Martin Luther King’s dream, America is at a new crossroads.
But, many of us are wondering what this will mean for the everyday, average African American. Will it mark a turning point in race relations in this country? Will it spark a renaissance of equal opportunity in this country for all people of color?
I am afraid that anyone with such expectations is whistling Dixie. The mere thought of such expectations brings to mind my high school graduation motto: “We have crossed the bay, but the ocean lies before us.”
Needless to say, there is a real danger in expecting too much of this victory — although it is truly a victory for all people of color, as well as the country at large. Yet the reality remains that no single person or event can possibly completely erase the dilemma of racism that is so inherent in the American way of life.
In the meantime, we as people of color must temper our expectations and endeavor to increase our cooperation to support his agenda to the maximum of our capacity.
Matthew Little welcomes reader responses to firstname.lastname@example.org.