It still hasn't fully sunken in for me. The senator from Illinois is the first black president of the United States. Wow!
My grandmother is 90 years old. She is my hero. She had no hope of seeing a black president in her lifetime, despite living so long. I thought the same thing. Hell, if I was to live to be 90 I wouldn't have thought it possible. Then I arose at 5:30 a.m. on Nov. 4 with the intention of beating the crowd to the poll only to get there to see that 300 people had beaten me to the punch. At that point, I knew the black guy had a chance. Then he won. Wow.
He pummeled Sen. John McCain, the Republican hopeful, by a sizable margin and I was stunned, as well as happy, because I feared he would have been robbed in a close race. But there was nothing to worry about.
Well, except for the fact that he won.
I was not, am not, as ecstatic as many of the people I know personally who cried or hugged me when we first talked about the election results. My enthusiasm is tempered because I am concerned that the millions of people who came out to vote for the first time, who bought lawn signs, bumper stickers and bootleg t-shirts to promote his candidacy will not continue supporting Barack Obama once he becomes president in January. It's a legitimate concern I think.
Just like millions of black people think that we have overcome, when they look at the mass appeal of a Tiger Woods or Michael Jordan, when we haven't -- I think too many black people and disaffected people in this country will look at the progress Obama's victory represents as a sign that everything is right in the world. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Statistically, my son is more likely to end up in prison than in college. Even though I know he better go to college or I'll end up in prison! But, I digress. The fact is, we are still in the midst of an economic nightmare, a foreclosure crisis, an unemployment catastrophe and two wars (Remember them? I know. They fell off the radar once the national and global stock markets began their free falls). Black people and other minorities are disproportionately affected by these circumstances.
If Obama is to have a chance at being more than a footnote in history, then all of those people who were motivated to become active in the process of electing him have to commit to staying active in their homes and in their communities. There remains much work to do.