America Sees Obama the Figure

Black people everywhere are happy about having a black president. I'm happy about it too, but I know for certain it's for different reasons than the rest of my race. People seem to think that he's our president and that he'll neglect the needs of the rest of the country. I know that is not so. I hate that I'm echoing what has been said and read a lot lately, but I'll get to my own semi-original thought in a second.

Here's what's confusing me: what were we expecting? January 20th rolls around, at noon Barack Hussein Obama takes the oath of the presidency and to protect the Constitution of the United States (something President Bush forgot to do, especially with those 1, 4, 8, and 14th amendments), and by the time the 21st rolls around what happens? I hope 12% of this country isn't expecting its forty acres and a mule or anything.

President-elect Obama has to guide us out of a nationwide financial crisis (that clearly has a major impact on the global economy) and two wars. There isn't going to be enough time for him to dwell on blacks for four straight years.

This isn't to say Obama will not have an impact in the black community. His mere presence increases racial discourse. Most of America has to see that other America and see how it works for a change. It'll have to note our different humor. It'll have to note that while white's typically tiptoe around issues of race, if not ignore them outright, black people talk about them often because we see these lines and their impact everyday. America will see a president who is American before he is black, but he is not "just an American." This makes a difference in how we will all have to view racial discourse and interaction. But this doesn't mean the federal government's first actions will be to build more free clinics in inner cities or deposit an extra $50 million into the United Negro College Fund.

His presence and our new prominence will mean America has more factors to consider. It means the Christian right will have to not only unify behind a certain cause and determine if it wants to move more to the right or to the center, it also means it has to negotiate how it wants to deal with blacks who have a representative in office, are fiscal liberals, but are also social conservatives who held close to the Christian right for some time until recently.

This is a new day in America for many reasons. It is a new day because we have to use cash again. It's a new day because the global community may be open to Americans again. It's a new day because we're seeing the beginnings of a post-Boomer generation taking prominence. It's a new day because we have a black president who will make an impact not necessarily for what he will do, but solely because of who he is. It is yet to be said what good or bad he will do in office, but here mere presence causes America to take pause and reanalyze itself.

It also may force Lorne Michaels to hire a thin black guy to play the president instead of putting Fred Armisen in blackface, which really pisses me off.


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