Thursday, November 13, 2008

Obama: Cultural Revolution

I, like millions in the world, am extremely happy that Barack Obama has been elected to the office of the President of the United States. As a child of the Civil Rights Movement, I definitely feel vindication for the generations of oppression wielded against my people in this land called America. I mean, the image of a black man as the most powerful man in the world, leader of the free world, the vanguard for democracy- a black family as the First Family - a solid intact black family, as opposed to the broken families portrayed on the recent CNN special called Black in America, these images are astounding to me from my generation's perspective. These images are revolutionary.

Now while my heart yearned to support the black man, I did not want that to be my solitary reason for casting my vote. As with every election I wanted my political views to align with my chosen candidate. And with Barack, he was speaking to my heart. He is the right man for the job for such a time as this.

While Obama's victory delivers hope to the vestiges of Washington politics, and indeed the world stage, his victory also signals a cultural revolution within Black American Society. For the first time, little boys and girls can see someone who looks like them in the role of President of the United States. There is louder truth to the words that "you can do anything"... The image of a loving father, loyal husband married to a black woman resounds louder than ever. This is contrary to the images we normally see of us. Broken home. Irresponsible, weak male figure, smart-ass, neck rolling woman.

The Obamas are the catalyst for a cultural revolution among African Americans. For the male, finally we see an educated, qualified brotha ready to take the reins of the most powerful nation on earth. For the female, we finally see an educated, woman who's not engaged in the smart ass one liners, the mistrust of her man, the public emasculation... Alison Samuels, a writer for Newsweek Magazine said it best "As the First Lady, she will have the world's attention. And that means that for the first time people will have a chance to get up close and personal with the type of African-American woman they so rarely see." (What Michelle Obama can teach us about Black Women)

Nonetheless, I am concerned that a lot of sistas just will not get it. I overheard a conversation the other day among four black women. All of these women are gainfully employed, mostly educated and seemingly grounded. But the conversation surrounded thier assumption that Michelle Obama had cut her eyes and rolled her neck at something that Barack had said. All this attitude emanating while she sat on the dais as her husband spoke to the masses of the people. "Girl you know she runnin that house, did you see how she cut her eyes?? She can cut them with the best of them" "She looked at him like I do my man... wait till we get home, you gonna get it..." I promise this was the essence of the conversation. They went on and on how they control thier men and he better not get out of line cause they are right there to check him.

I was incredulous that women actually think this. And particularly that they thought Michelle Obama was actually cutting her eyes at Barack. And even if she did not approve of what was being said, I believe that Michelle has more grace and poise than to show out in public. The cutting of eyes and neck rolling once again emasculates the male and a lot of black women are experts at this. I remember reading an interview of Dexter King, the son of Dr. Martin Luther King. He was asked about his marriage plans and he described how his bride needed to be the type of woman who could exhibit the poise to not chastise in public. I started thinking about the powerful men I have significant contact with. I have never seen thier wives neck roll, cut eyes or any of that foolishness in public. Actually, I know of women who are experts at maintaining grace, poise and excellence so as not to embarass or take away the masculinity of thier men in public. So why did these sistas think it was proper to do so. More importantly, why did they think Michelle was doing this to the President of the United States???

As we view the images of the Barack Obama Family, we will learn lessons of grace, poise and respect for one another. Men will see the image of a black man who is responsible, strong, super-intelligent and damn good at his job, who is at the same time a wonderful and loving husband, excellent adoring father to his children. An excellent role model for black men. Women will see a loving wife, dedicated to her family, but at the same time educated and accomplished in her own right. Not a bitter, angry black woman with little or no respect for the man even though she married him.

Our children will see an intact, loving family - occupying the White House as the nation's first family. And these images will result in our people working the more to stay married, treat one another with respect, do better in school and working to preserve the family. For family values remains the anchor, the foundation to complete liberation and move us to even greater participation in this great and free society known as the United States of America.

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