|In New York, after the law that was passed allowing gays to get married, many leading persons condemned it, both there and abroad. A prominent church leader said it was a crime against god. On that radio programme, the news analyst proclaimed that the new law would lead to a complete breakdown of society.
I distinctly remember the arguments in both cases. For the black girl, it was claimed that black people are incapable of learning, as such; their place was in the cotton fields. In response to that New York vote, it is being claimed by many that gays should be stripped of all rights and stay where they belong – in the closet.
Now, none of us today should condemn the actions of either side, and I tell you why. Every generation has a right to determine what is right for their society.
In the past, most white dominated societies had laws that had clear boundaries between the races. In those days, it was felt that a white-led society was the better for all. Of course, most of us today would find such a notion ridiculous, but that was then. That was a different time, as such; we today should not condemn them for how they choose to order their society.
Today, in societies, like ours, homosexuality is still frown upon. There are even laws against the practice in many of our societies. For these societies, this order is seen today as the one most suitable. It doesn’t seem right to condemn these societies for how they have gone about ordering themselves either.
However, based on the changes that are taking place, it seems certain that future generations will view homosexuality and gay marriage differently. Who would have thought that New York could have passed such a law even twenty years ago?
When our future generations decide to do away with the laws that discriminate against gay people, they will decide that the time has come to re-order society. That will be their choice and we today must respect them for it. I know that most people in the future will view us the same way we today view the racists of the past – as sick.
However, what we need is not condemnation, but understanding. At the end of that programme with that black girl, the Quaker prophesied that future generations will become ashamed of what their parents did. She was right. I suppose the same can be expected of this gay issue too.
However, once a clear understanding of how human behaviour evolves is established, there will be no shame. There is nothing absolute about human morals. Morality is shaped by what society accepts as workable, and as we have seen with both cases, that changes with time.
For those who thought Obama’s decisive victory was akin to winning the mother of all battles must now come to term with the fact the road ahead represents an even steeper hill to climb. An economy in turmoil. An unpopular war in Iraq. A conflict in Afghanistan. Al Qaeda. Declining public education. AIDS. Jobless Americans. Where does Obama begin? One thing is for sure, however, expectation is high, and many of us will undoubtedly fall victim to disappointment from the stumbles Obama will likely encounter in the very near future. And stumble he will; the enormity of the challenges ahead certainly assures us of that. Those who came before him like Washington, Adams and FDR would quickly attest to that. But Obama only needs to look to Clinton, Bush or Carter for a mere taste of what’s likely to come.
Without a doubt, however, disappointment for many will come when the flawed Obama is finally unmasked. To some, Obama has become a messiah: unworthy of the scrutiny we expect of presidential candidates or a President. As a person of color, one can certainly understand the need to become overly protective of those deserving of our admiration. It is an undisputed fact that our heroes are few and the stake for Obama could not have been any higher. Were the media biased in a manner never before seen in an election cycle? Yes! And Obama was the beneficiary. Should some blacks seek atonement for the vitriolic language cast upon fellow people of color who did not support Obama? Absolutely!
It was wrong to brand Bill Clinton a racist for comments he made about Jesse Jackson in North Carolina during the primary, as it is equally wrong to label Jessie Jackson insincere or a hypocrite for shedding tears during Obama’s victory speech. Jessie Jackson walked along side Martin Luther King. For that reason alone, he should be given the benefit of the doubt. The mere notion that Bill Clinton is a racist is as absurd as it is offensive. The fact of the matter is that with the exception of Lincoln, President Clinton has done more for blacks in this country than any other President. He appointed more blacks to his cabinet than any of his predecessors. And more minorities became homeowners during his administration that any other time in history. Hillary Clinton is a leader of great intellect and tenacity. One who is deserving of equal respect. Whatever your opinion of Sara Palin, we should never abide blatant sexism.
Like it or not, President-elect Obama is a tough politician from Chicago. One who was smart, shrewd and ruthless enough to realize that he had to associate with the likes of Bill Ayres, Reverend Wright and Tony Resko in order to make history on November 4, 2008. Should he have been questioned about those pinheads? Of course. When you’re seeking the most important job in the country-perhaps the world-judgement matters. The sooner we come to the realization that Obama is master politician-but a politician, nonetheless-the more prepared we will become to journey with this extraordinarily gifted young President. Greatness through a legacy of accomplishments is certainly within his grasp. That greatness, however, will come from a man, not a God. Dr. King might have had assignations with other women, but it is the ultimate sacrifice of his own life and those enduring words of inspiration that solidifies his place in history. Jefferson owned slaves. He freed only two in his lifetime. But I would vigorously challenge those who would dare to advance the ascendancy of the notion that this author of our Declaration of Independence and master-mind of the Louisiana Purchase, who managed to reduce the national debt by a third in his first term in office while slashing the federal budget and eliminating a controversial tax on whiskey, is not among our nation’s greatest Presidents.
President-elect Obama is a man with a thin resume. A superb manager and one who, ironically, found a subtle but deliberate way to use his skin color along with his brilliant oratory skill to captivate a nation and the world at a defining moment that nearly derailed his candidacy. This is a fact; not a criticism and we need to own it. While we continue to be inspired by Obama, we should also become more honest and introspective because of him. Enough with the illegitimate children and absentee fathers. Welfare is not manifest destiny. Massacring the English language is not an inalienable right that grants us passage into blackness or brotherhood. Education should never be negotiable. And while sport figures can also inspire, they should not be our prime heroes. Racism will not suddenly and magically disappear. However, no longer can we default to old excuses fueled by racial barriers. Hope has been redefined.
As we set out for the meandering road ahead in our quest to secure a more perfect union, President-elect Obama should find motivation in the words of former First Lady, Abigail Adams, who, at time of the American Revolution remarked that “these are the times when a genius wants to live.” Make no mistake: despite our current woes, we are not a nation short of great minds. Obama know this, and he will gather a team of the best and brightest and lead this nation to great heights. The decisive election result further underscores what Lincoln knows so well. “With popular sentiments, nothing can fail. Without it, nothing can succeed.”
We should celebrate Obama’s victory with as much passion as we so choose. We should be careful, however, not to claim him as just our own so as to relegate whites to a back seat with unkind rhetoric. He is the President of all Americans, and leader of the free world. To say that there is tremendous pride from Obama’s win would be an understatement. Here we are, only forty-three years after the passing of voting rights preparing to inaugurate a black man as President. He will take the oath of office on the steps of the US Capitol. Steps built by slaves. He will then walk to a few blocks to take up residence in White House. Without a doubt, the voices of the slaves who built that mansion will join with the ghost of former residents to generate a cacophony in Obama’s head so load we are all guaranteed to hear the one belonging to a former guest. “Free at last. Free at last. Thank God Almighty……”
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