Sunday, December 27, 2009


The day after Christmas, I decided to report to work around 7:00pm, even though it was understood that I probably would not make it there, considering I spent the holiday with my family in Austin. I could have gone home to enjoy what was left of my evening and rest from all of the excitement from the past few days. But truth is, there is no money in that and I hustle first/sleep later. Upon arriving to work, I changed into my faded black button down shirt that I usually walk around the store in, but not before I had an exchange with a sweet 18 year-old, Caucasian female coworker.. One that left us both dazed and confused. I walked into the break room with my younger cousin's only beloved Obama shirt suffocating my upper body. Seeing the white girl did not add to my discomfort, because as I mentioned, she's sweet. We even attend the same university where we run into each other from time to time at the dorm that she and my girlfriend both live in. But our conversation revealed a comical cultural bewilderment as we end the first decade of this 21st century. It went a little something like this:

{The Obama shirt says something about him being America's first black president. Girl studies it, and her response...)

Girl: I don't see why it matters that he's black. It's not a big deal. Like, I don't even care as long as he does his job.

Me: Well I hope he does his job, since it's probably the most important one in the world. But it matters to black people that he's black. It's definitely a big deal.

Girl: Yeah I guess. But isn't he half white? So... (interrupted )

Me: So what? Doesn't he look black to you?

Girl: Yeah, I guess.... So Tiger Woods is black?

Me: Yeah.

Girl: And his kids are black? Even though he's only sort of black and their mom is white?

Me: Yeah.

Girl: If you say so. I don't see what the big deal is.


I quickly digressed from being the typical black person who had a chip on his shoulder in every racial discussion. Yet, I badly wanted the girl to understand. I wanted her to realize how many people could be effected by the type of success story that puts a black man in the White House. I felt like she needed to know that black is black no matter what you mix it with, because the societal view of colored people has never changed. I wanted her to feel me.. (for lack of a better term). My digression came when I thought about why she didn't get it, and perhaps why she shouldn't. I just figured that even the young people who did not support the mythical term of social change, at least comprehended it's intent and significance. Today I stand corrected. And she isn't the only one who feels this way. I've just been lying to myself. Even with the election seeming to be 80 billion years old, I still feel it's necessary to explicate the importance of being black and why it is a big deal. Not that any race is better than another, but the history of black people simply can't be ignored. It's not right, it's not wrong, it just is.

The rate of imprisonment for all men above age 18 is one in every 54. The percentage for Black men is one in every 15. I've been told by prison workers that they fill the cells here in Huntsville and they're steady making room. What is troubling is that I have no interest in the percentage of black men that are on their way to prison, because I know far too many myself. And what's their excuse? They shouldn't have one. Seeing Obama sworn into office gave the black role model idea a celestial presence, aside from the fact that choosing to do the right thing has always been an option, and never been a bad one. I wish fewer black males would give up on education and actually tried to see where it would take them. I hope to be open-minded if by chance my son wants to quit basketball to focus on being the president of the Speech & Debate team. "You can do anything you wanna do, and be anything you wanna be" doesn't sound as lame as it used to for the people who are sheltered in the black community. I hope they've been paying attention.

To the point of multiracial children being considered black if it's there, that's partly true. There are some exceptions. I saw an episode of Cold Case where an African-American banker of the 1950s, posed as a white man because he looked the part, but his father was actually as dark as I am. He struggled with the conflict of turning on his people and it ultimately would be the death of him. After he had promised a mortgage loan to an old friend who was African-American, and later denied, he was killed by the embarrassed husband and father who felt like he couldn't catch a break. In that episode, there goes another brother to prison. But that's a television example. I later suggested to the girl that she feed that multiracial stuff to the racist father who's daughter gets pregnant by a black guy. Tell me if he's upset about his grandchild is multiracial... or is it cause he's black. I'm ranting.

I know there are bigger issues at hand: Health care, the economy, War on Terror, etc. I hope everything works out for the better. I wish we could kill the politics for a little while and actually talk it out like regular people. Obama seems like a regular person. He was raised by his white mother as a black child and became the black president that we all knew would never be. Contrary to the sweet girl's failure to understand, it is a big deal indeed.

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