Wednesday, November 5, 2008

"Never In My Lifetime" REALLY?!

I've believed, as long as I can remember, that black people and white people are equal in the eyes of God. Of course that has not always been the case in the eyes of the law or white America.

While my view of African-Americans has become more enlightened since my childhood days in Southern Indiana, if you would have asked me when I was 5, 15, or 30 if I would live to see a black man become president, I honestly can't imagine answering "no."

While I may have been naive about racism and didn't know what is was like to grow up a black kid, at my core, I've always believed any person can achieve in America whatever they set their mind to. I can thank my first black friend, Reggie Williams, for that.

I rode bus "D-1" to school from 1st through 8th grade and Reggie, one grade older, rode it with me. While I always maintained a class-clown persona, Reggie was always admired and respected. He was a good buddy, a school leader, a peacemaker and someone I always looked up to. He graduated Harvard Law, married (and divorced) a Guggenheim, and is at MTV Networks today.
He was there the first time I ever saw a Playboy. The class perv brought one aboard "D-1" and instead of it being a watershed moment for me, Reggie ruined it by saying the models were being disrespectful to themselves and that mags like Playboy were immoral.

"She must make a lot of money to do that," I said.
"Not as much as you would think," Reggie said, in disgust.

In junior high, Reggie was at the top of the leadership rung of the D-1 kids. He always sat in that right side seat in the very back of the bus because those were the choice seats. The minute he stepped off the bus, everyone scurried to get their butt into it.

I'm introducing you to Reggie as the reason why I've always thought a black man could become president in my lifetime. Simplistic, perhaps, but I had looked up to a black kid as long as I can remember and there was nothing at home or school to contradict that belief.

So I was taken back last night as I watched election coverage. So many people "never thought they'd see this day, when a black man would become president."

I've never been on the receiving end of a racist threat. I've never been denied an opportunity because of the color of my skin. But the white Tom Brokaw, Andrea Mitchell, Brian Williams and even Luke Russert kept beating that "never in my lifetime" drum over and over again. A talking head on CNN this morning said "this is the realization of what the founding fathers meant by all men are created equal."

Shocking. It's taken us 232 years to verify that? Apparently this person never believed it in the first place.

Someone post a response to this question: Am I showing my ignorance or is it the pundits' prejudice rearing its ugly head?

Another shocking statement: Obama's election was now "PROOF you can be anyone or do anything in America."
- I don't need proof that I will die a happy man.
- I don't need proof that I will raise my kids right.
- I don't need proof that I will become successful.
- The proof to me there is a God is not that a Santa Claus-like figure verifies his existence, but because I see His works through the good deeds and loving actions of people in my church.

I BELIEVE in these things, because I have faith they will happen if I put the appropriate effort in to make them happen. A majority of Americans BELIEVED in Obama will tackle our challenges without PROOF.

Obama's victory is indeed historical not just because he is the first black president, but because he was a state Senator 4 years ago! He threw a wrench into the black political machine, Chicago political machine, the Clinton political machine, and the Republican political machine. When he ran out of wrenches, he reached into that tool box and pulled out a hammer and saw. He and advisors built grassroots support from that foundation upward.

Never in our lifetimes? Obama's supporters are already selling him short.

photo credit: Cassie Shell for Time