|BENEATH THE SPIN ERIC L. WATTREE, SR.|
WHICH WAY WILL WE TURN--
TOWARDS MARTIN'S DREAM, OR INTO A NIGHTMARE?
I just have to scratch my head when I see how we're squandering away the rights that people fought so hard to provide us. Some of us are floatin' around here acting like Martin's dream was about nothing more than the right to chase White girls--that seems to be one of the few things that some of us appreciate about the sacrifices that were made for us. What's really sad, however, is that one could make a very strong argument that we were better off under Jim Crow. At least then we stuck together, we had to--we were herded together like cattle. But in spite of that, we seemed to have had stronger family units, more entrepreneurs in the community, and a dream of someday doing better. But now, many of us have become lost in hedonism--if it's not sexy, entertaining, or make us feel good, we're not interested in it. I expect National Geographic to show up any day now to document how forty year old "men" are walking around wearing baseball caps turned sideways, the fathers of kids they've never met. It's amazing-- we got a little taste of freedom and went stone nuts!
Many of our more successful Black people have issues as well. Let's look at some of our Black businessmen and politicians, for example. People have died to make their way of life possible. Past generations have faced vicious dogs, Billy clubs, fire hoses, and even the noose to place these people in the positions they're in today. A generation of Black people have faced all manner of hardship in the hope that if we could just get the right to vote, we could come together and vote Black politicians in office who could then help to make all of our lives a little better. But they never even dreamed that someday we'd have the opportunity to vote for a Black man to be president of the United States--and with widespread White support. Can you imagine what these people would say if they could see our Black businessmen, pundits, and Black politicians running up to the front of the crowd, waving White folks off (even White Southerners!) Saying, "No, no--he's not ready yet;" "He's too young;" or "He doesn't have enough experience?" Can you imagine them telling Martin, who gave his life at 39, that Senator Obama is too young to be president at 46; or telling Martin we need to vote for Hillary--who was a Republican and working for Barry Goldwater when Martin was marching on Washington? While I'm sorry Martin is gone, I'm glad he never got to see what some of us have become--it would be kinda fun to hear what Malcolm would have to say, however.
It is extremely important that we recognize that we are at a crossroad. For once--and quite possibly, only this once--Black people have the power to determine the direction that this country will go. If every Black person, just this once, would pull together, we could elect a Black man PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES--that's OF AMERICA, people. Now, think about this: WE HAVE BLACK PEOPLE CAMPAIGNING AGAINST THAT! Are they crazy!!? We simply cannot let this opportunity slip through our fingers--we can be fools about something else later, but not this! We have the opportunity at our command to not only save Black people, but to save All of America--and wouldn't that be ironic?
Just take a minute to think about what having Obama as president would mean--what it would mean to the self-esteem of your children, what it would mean to your own self-esteem. Think about what that would mean to the self-esteem of every Black person on the face of this Earth. If Obama is elected president, the very next morning, your child would be able to say, for the very first time, that I can be whatever I want to be--and he or she would be able to say it with conviction. Attitudes towards Black people would immediately begin to change--especially if Obama becomes the kind of president that I'm sure he will be. After all, how can you love and embrace your leader, and hate his people? How can you respect your leader, and not develop a respect for the people from which he's come? It would be a new beginning for America, because the American ideal would no longer be an experiment--it would have finally lived up to its promise.
So what's wrong with these Black businessmen, clergymen, and politicians who say they can't support Senator Obama!!!? I don't care what their alleged reason, if they turn their backs on Obama, they're not just turning their backs on a man, they're turning their backs on Black people as a whole--they're turning their backs on our children, and on the pain and suffering in our history. They're also turning their backs on our future--on Black souls yet unborn. So if they turn their backs on Obama, we should also turn our backs on them.
What do we need with leaders, preachers, and businessmen who don't have sense enough to know what's in the best interest of Black people, and who hasn't learned the importance of sticking together? How can they lead, when they haven't learned to follow? How can they show us the way, when they're headed in the wrong direction? But I guarantee you, our ancestors would recognize these people. These are the offspring of the very same people who said we couldn't run away from the fields, because, "Who gon be left to pick Mr. Charlie's cotton? He's been good to us. If we leave, he'd be ruined!" That's their mentality. They have more loyalty to Hillary's ambition than they do to their own history--they've been raised that way. But here's the biggest irony of them all--if Hillary wasn't his wife, I'd be willing to bet everything I own, that even Bill would be supporting Obama.
Let us not forget that some of these very same people who say he lacks experience--in spite of the fact that Senator Obama has more experience in elective office than Hillary or any of the other front runners--asked for our vote when they didn't have ANY experience at all the first time they ran for office. Now all of a sudden they want to become deliberative. Well, maybe we should become deliberate the next time they want our vote. And maybe we should tell some of these businessmen who claim that Obama's not ready, that we're not sure that their new businesses are ready to compete with Wal-Mart.
If someone wanted to come into the community and gerrymander some of these districts to bring in more White voters, these very same Black politicians, who are so casually turning their backs on Obama, would be going to court and having a fit--and the reason they'd be having a fit is because they depend on the support of Black voters to keep them in office. That shows you what hypocrites they are. How can they depend on Black voters to support them, then turn their backs on Senator Obama? But these people are so self-serving that they don't even see the hypocrisy in that.
Finally, I want to make it clear that I don't ordinarily advocate that Black people vote exclusively along racial lines. One should vote for the best qualified candidate. But Senator Obama is, in fact, the best qualified candidate, by any indicator. Therefore, I'm certain that the importance for Black people to rally around Obama won't be lost on the White citizens of this country. Surely they'll understand the symbolic importance of this election to Black people, and the nation as a whole. I'm sure they'll fully understand that when we walk into that voting booth in the coming election, we'll be walking in there with Martin, and all this nation's founding documents, to be co-signed and ratified; and when we walk out, we'll be leaving all of our shackles behind. I'm sure the White citizens of this country will understand that--in fact, they seem to understand it better than some of us.
Eric L. Wattree, Sr.