Thursday, June 05, 2008

No Big Deal

Dear Senator Obama,

You are the first Black person to be the Presidential nominee of a major American party. But I’m here to tell you… That’s no big deal.

Oh, I’ve listened to the conjecture, the pontifications, the declarations of what it would mean historically to have a Black nominee and possibly a Black president. Everybody seems to think it will be a great day for the Black man if you win. I’m not so sure.

You see, there’s been a lot of brothers out there skatin’ on some ol’ “The man’s keepin’ me down, I can’t get a job” shit. Can you imagine the shit they are going to have to take from their women the morning after the election?

Well, well, well… Michelle Obama’s man got a fuckin’ job! He’s President. Maybe you heard. Surely you can run yo’ ass down to Popeye’s and serve up some number threes, muthafucka!

Great?! For the nigga who has to listen to that shit, you becoming President is the worst thing that could ever happen.

Everybody’s saying it’s a big deal that you’re the first Black nominee. A year ago, you wasn’t even Black. Or, at least, you weren’t Black enough. Remember those days. It seems like just yesterday I was scratching my head wondering why all anybody could talk about was how you were raised by White folks and your daddy wasn’t even Black; He was AFRICAN! Obama ain’t really Black, that was the word. But before I knew it, you were too Black. Am I Wright?

Now, when Dr. King was killed in 1968 many wondered if The Dream died with him. Then, 20 years later, in 1988, Jesse Jackson’s – largely symbolic – Presidential campaign reminded us that, though progress had been made, The Dream had been deferred. But 20 years later, in 2008, I don’t see you as the realization of The Dream. In 2008, 20 years after “Run, Jesse, Run” and 40 years after Dr. King’s assassination, I see you as the evolution of The Dream – an evolution that has occurred at a revolutionary rate. 45 years after Dr. King articulated his Dream on a hot August day in 1963, under the watchful eye of Abraham Lincoln – who had 100 years before that given this nation the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863 – you stand, not simply a free man, but potentially the leader of the Free World. (Is it just me or is “Leader of The Free World” about as presumptuous as Americans be?)

And how have you gotten to this point? Paradoxically, you may boldly go where no Black man has gone before by not running as a Black man. You have run simply as Barack Obama. You never denied your blackness. (Did you and Michelle really do a fist bump on stage last night? Wow… [,0,4475001.story] ) But you never allowed your blackness to define you.

I didn’t think that was possible. I’ve said since watching Jesse’s campaigns that “There won’t never be a Black President of the United States!” And here you go now, poised to make me eat my words.

I was so sure that you wouldn’t even get to sniff victory in the Presidential election that I nominated you for another position, H.N.I.C. ( I figured you’d be available. And guess what? You won that election. Though, to give you some sense of my readership, you were challenged by Jay-Z and Tyrone Biggums. (

I figured at some point, you would wrap up your candidacy and Head Nigga In Charge would make a fine fall-back plan even if you’re a no-nigga-sayin’ brother which I would guess you are. I figured that joke was just sitting out there waiting to be told. But month after month, primary after primary, caucus after caucus, you persevered and, finally, became your party’s “presumptive nominee.” I guess the joke was on me.

I watched your celebration. I watched you deliver your historic speech. And there on the bed beside me were my kids, those little niglets I love so much. I listened to you speak and thought, “Maybe we can leave them the world in better shape than we found it in.” (Though, given the way kids tear up all nice things, I don’t know why I even worry about that.)

I don’t want to be one of those people who puts all their hopes and dreams on you. Should you win, the story of your Presidency will not begin with “Once upon a time…” nor will it end with “…happily ever after.” The rivers won’t overflow with Hennessy. Kool-Aid won’t rain down from the sky.

To be sure, there will be another Sean Bell. AIDS will still be running through our communities like the common cold. And then, there’ always R. Kelly. (sigh) The country at large will still be held captive by the oil companies for the foreseeable future. Getting out of Iraq will not be nearly as easy as going in was. Life will still have its difficulties.

But maybe – just maybe – if the land of the free and the home of the slave can overcome its ugly past, we can truly get to the day of which I’ve heard you speak, a day when we move from the red state/blue state paradigm to a purple America, a day when we move past an outdated Black/White paradigm to one that acknowledges and embraces all the hues of living color across this nation and the world. Maybe – just maybe – one day I’ll tell my kids that I put them on that bed next to me because I wanted them to share a moment I never thought I’d live to see, a Black man securing the Democratic nomination for President of the United States. And they’ll look at me quizzically – as I looked at my mother and wondered how they even had baseball teams without Black people - and ask, “What was the big deal?”

I imagine - though I’ll try to provide context - that on a basic level, I’ll be stumped. What was the big deal? I had challenged myself for some time not to choose my candidate early, not to vote for you because we have our race in common. I listened. And I liked what you had to say. It is time for change. Yes, as a matter of fact, we can. I do think diplomacy should be fully attempted before military solutions are employed. I came to support you independent of your skin color.

So, it may be a stretch for me to say that your historic nomination is no big deal. But I think the bigger deal is that you reminded A New Millennium Nigga not of the old millennium yesterday that made it a big deal, but of the possibility of a new millennium tomorrow when a Black man, or a White woman (Hillary deserves some love for what she did here, too.), or a wheelchair-bound agnostic lesbian running for the highest office in the land will be no big deal at all.

That part of me that lives with that yesterday feels compelled to call you my “brother” and celebrate this as a very big deal. But the part of me that wants to join you in that tomorrow feels compelled to call you my “fellow American” and celebrate that this is no big deal at all.


p.s. Hillary’s cool and all, but we all know I should be your Vice-President.