It was November 4 and I was happy when I woke up because it was a historic moment. Today was the day either a woman was elected vice president or a black man was elected president. I went with my mom to the polls to vote before going to school. While I watched my mom vote and looked around the room of the church, what was going through my mind was at one time my mom or those like her, whether black or women, could not vote.
When President-elect Barack Obama was announced, I was on the outside patio of Smooths in downtown Long Beach eating pasta. There was a rainbow of people who started clapping, whistling, giving each other a high-five and hugging. They were all so happy. Barack Obama is President-elect. How could that be? There were still votes needing to be counted. I had a hard time understanding how they were making an announcement when all the votes had not been counted but, then I remembered how Anderson Cooper projected states on the electoral map.
A black president, what does that mean? Oh the pressure, not for Barack Obama but, for black children, youth and young adults, especially males. Does it mean people now will say things to me like, “you are a smart boy, perhaps you may be president one day,” “you now have someone to look up to” or any other comment people say trying to be encouraging. Will my intelligence and the intelligence of other black boys now be looked at differently because there is a black president? Will we now need to change our role models from other black men, such as our fathers or uncles, to the president? Why? I’ve heard comments like, now blacks will have no excuse. What does that mean? No excuse for what? Does that mean there will be less black children in foster care, in the criminal justice system, dropping out of school or unemployed?
Parents, teachers and mentors help us find our unique purpose and do not make us feel bad if it is not what they envisioned it to be: doctor, lawyer or President. I worry that children will be pressured to achieve beyond their purpose. I know we will and should be encouraged to set higher goals for our lives. I know we will and have been told we can be anything we want to be but, is that true? Senator McCain has probably heard the same thing and has unsuccessfully run for president twice. I believe we have all been created for a specific reason. Our God-given purpose does not change based on who sits in the Oval Office. We were not all created to become the president of the United States but, we were created for a purpose equally as important to those whose lives we will touch now and in the future.
I do think Barack Obama will do a good job, not because he is black. He will have his ups and downs and may not have support to do everything he thought he could. He will have to prove to those who voted for him and especially those who did not, what he is made of. If he does a good job, I hope he is re-elected for a second term. My mother always says, “a man’s gift makes room for him.” So move over, President Bush, the United States of America and the world, and prepare to receive the new President of the United States of America, Barack Obama.
Remember, “It only takes one to make a difference!”