I proclaimed in this post over a year ago that Barack Obama would not be elected president because the country still looked at blacks as an evil entity up to no good and not worthy of the highest office in the land. I'm stunned and, yes, proud to admit that I was very wrong. Like almost every other African-American, Tuesday night was a night that I had a hard time imagining I would ever see. But it indeed happened. I wouldn't dare try to attend that Election Night celebration in Grant Park (thank God I didn't have to work that night), but I did watch the telecast over the phone with my girlfriend, so at least I can tell my grandkids. I take zero credit for Obama's win, because I didn't do my part. I'm not registered to vote, and that was a point of contention between me and co-workers and family. A couple of weeks ago my uncle, who I didn't even know had my e-mail address because he's never sent me an e-mail before, sent me a video from moveon.org personalizing my name in a 90-second "news clip" blaming me for causing Obama to lose by one vote. I guess if you go to that site, you can personalize that video for anybody. It was actually quite funny, and also timely because I just recently had an argument with my aunt about the fact that everything I do is tsk-tsked by my family. Even as a kid, it seemed everything I did was treated as not good enough or not living up to my potential, and a few days after my aunt tried to deny that, here comes that e-mail from her brother. Perfect timing. I haven't even spoken to him since July 4th, but he took the time to let me know how much I'm letting him and everyone down yet again. But I don't believe in a system that smiles and lies to your face telling you that you can elect anyone you want while completely stomping the flame of anyone who doesn't buy into one of the top two political parties. And I don't apologize for not buying into the two-party bullshit.
I have to admit that since I wasn't voting and therefore wasn't paying attention, I don't know anything about exactly what will happen when and if Obama is able to execute this "change that we can believe in," except I do know that he plans to heavily tax the highest wage-earners. So maybe he really was voted in on the issues. But I wonder how much of it was the novelty of putting someone in office that wasn't a white male, which is what the previous 43 were. I wonder how much of it was a rejection of all things Republican and all things Bush, and I wonder if almost anyone could have ran under the Democratic banner and won, although if this country was really that sick of Bush they would've voted him out after that first disastrous term. I wonder how much of it was the American Idolization of American society, voting for someone based on a two-minute TV clip or ten-second soundbite, or the Hot or Notization, voting for someone because they're cute. I wonder how much of it was the stigma of interracial relations melting away in this internet era, when people of all colors in all corners of the globe hooked up with each other and black men by my distant observation became the hottest property since the slave trade. I suppose I should just be grateful for the social progress necessary to make this happen, and I do know that there had to be a tremendous amount of social progress. But I wouldn't be me if I didn't wonder exactly why this progress occurred at this point in time.
One of the many co-workers angered by my inaction asked a really good question--what could Obama do in this term that would change my mind about the process and make me want to register to vote next time around? The first thing that popped into my mind was the discrepancy between the percentage of black men in jail and the percentage of white men, and the more I think about it, the more it makes sense to me, although it may not make sense to anyone else. But if Obama, being an African-American male, can't affect the change necessary to stop the ridiculous amount of black men being incarcerated for shit that white men get off, then I would think that I have no reason to vote for anyone else to get it done either. Research any study and you will find that the average punishment for a black man charged with selling drugs is incredibly stricter than a white man doing the same thing. I would assume that it's the same thing with other crimes, but I haven't seen those numbers. So that's my stance. Barack Obama is a black male. Surely he's noticed that black males in the American judicial system are sentenced to do harder time than white males. Surely he's noticed that one in four black men have been jailed at some point in their lives, and I think we're enlightened enough to know that it's not because black men are just more criminal than white men. If he's the most powerful person in the land, he will change that in the next four years, and if he doesn't, then maybe he ain't so powerful. That's what I'll be watching for. Everyone else can watch for whatever they want to see.