Monday, February 2, 2009

Obama is not 'the new black.'

While out shopping Saturday, I came across a t-shirt amongst the loads of Obama paraphernalia circulating DC that said, "Obama is the New Black." At first I smiled still proud of my country for electing a man whose hue is close to my own. Then it hit me, the new black? The new black meaning the old black was what?

As a scholar of African American history, I can't help but cringe at the idea that Obama is somehow being separated from the centuries of struggles people who looked like him endured with perseverance. Sunday at church my pastor reminded me just how much went into the new generation of blacks. People hoped, prayed, fought, and most importantly waited for the day when their work would pay off. All they asked, I believe, was for someone to remember they existed, for someone to remember their part in a long walk to freedom. I remember them and I believe anyone proud of this country's history should too. Thus, the "old black" share in Obama's strength and passion.

No doubt President Obama's new position puts him in the upper echelon of political circle. But his drive, passion for his community, and willingness to risk it all for change is shared by many people of all races. Obama is not the new black. This line requires me to let loose the painful rememories of the struggles of people and put him at the top of my race. I won't.

Obama is in a new position but both single mothers working to make a difference and young college students eager to put their talents to use share his characteristics and hopes for a collective change.