I was walking on Polk Street going east when a brother around 35 years of age looked at me and said, “Sista,” and I looked at him expecting him to ask for money when he said, “Do you pray?” And again I thought “here we go,” but he proved me wrong twice, I answered, “Yes.” And he then said, “Will you pray for me?” And I said without hesitation and much joy, “Yes! What’s your name?” He said, “Jamal,” and kept on his way.
Then I immediately turned to follow him with my eyes on a path that led to I don’t know where. I just know that he knew that it took more than himself to do what he had to do. I prayed for him as I watched him disappear further away from my reach, stepping into the distance beyond. My heart felt heavy and I teared up questioning whether I was worthy to pray for such a man.
As I stare into the face of this presidential campaign, so many questions tug at my heart, and my brain is flooded with thoughts. My emotions rage through my body, pushing hard on my spirit that remains burdensome. I seek deep within the joy I find in faith knowing that I was — all of us here — were born for this exact moment in time. And I scream at the top of my yearning that we discern and make the right choice — to vote or not to vote.
So the way I see it, we can revert to a divided, segregated for whites only society, polarized and racist. Many of us think that we are that. And those who do are those under 50. The Baby Boomers were the last to really confront racism head-on prior to what our children and grandchildren are experiencing today.
We were the civil rights activists, the children of those who marched and the freedom riders who faced the ugly American.
We walked through the doors that they pushed open and tore off the whites-only signs. We walked through and have fought to be respected, and appreciated for our contribution ever since. We worked hard to remain and to secure a space for our children to live based on the content of their character. Our children enjoyed a gentler America — they went to integrated schools and felt equal. They believe that they can achieve anything.
Yet there was “a different world,” behind shrouded rhetoric darkened by a failed delivery of equal opportunity imprisoned in underserved communities guarded by Racism — the huge overseer — maintaining the oppression keeping them down.
GIVING YOUTH A VISION
Is it a perfect world? No. But our generation did get Barack Obama into the White House. No matter what you may think about his presidency, he represented the face of change and his being in office was the change. To his credit, he put up a great fight given the Republican Senate he had working against him. Our children and grandchildren have a vision that includes the possibility of them becoming the President of the United States that we never envisioned.
Change? What does it look like? It begins with vision, and for all that we may not have liked about the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s methodology, we have to acknowledge that he was a man of great insight who projected his vision on the screen of our future. We saw it because he helped us embrace its possibility.
He inspired Robert Kennedy in 1961 to voice that, “there’s no reason that it is not forseeable that in the future a Negro could become president of the United States.”
And even more so, the possibility that became reality with the election of 2008. And then the era of racism to come that had seemingly passed the Generation X’ers reared its ugly head, filled with the suppressed fear contained under shades and layers of political correctness.
The rise of Black wealth, hip hop, rap, the King of Pop, America’s Favorite Dad, and all the kids who wanted to be like Mike, Tiger kicking much butt on the green, and finally the idea of a Black man in office just took those steeped in feared over the edge erupting the idealism of the South — the New Jim Crow — emerged as did the Tea Party, the Koch brothers, and different factions of Republicans.
But America rose higher, electing Barack Hussein Obama, not once but twice.
It seemed Obama became the subterfuge and the average Black man became the target of angry whites. Unbelievably, we watched the murderer of Trayvon Martin go free and the escalation of Black lives murdered at the hands of white police officers, as if our self-imposed suicide by our brothers’ hands were not enough. We scream, we scream, we scream BLACK LIVES MATTER!/too!
Yet we must be reminded of the truth as Michelle Obama said Monday night, the hatred spewed by a few does not represent the majority of Americans. Ask yourself, how could it and Obama be president?
The diehard Sanders supporters better wake up. Like Sarah Silverman said Monday, “Bernie or bust people . . . you are being ridiculous.”
All this we watch as snake-oil salesman Donald Trump pumps up, props up and puffs up the scared with lie after lie, promising a great America that he will transform all by himself. (news flash: to quote Michelle Obama, America is great). Don’t be Trumped by the trickster.
It is do or die time, Black men, women and Sanders supporters.
We are charged to register, register others, get others to register others, vote for Hillary, and pray.