Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Sooo, it's the day after "Moving Day" in D.C., as my son called it.

Only one thing left for all of us to do, now that all the hoopla is over:

Giving us a good idea about where we are with some of these changes is Oliver Wang at Poplicks: only needs to look at the murder of Oscar Grant and countless other examples of Black and Brown bodies under assault by police violence to know we haven't reached the promised land yet. The social mobility of African Americans - as a community - is still largely marginalized, even if specific individuals are exceptions to that rule (Obama being the most obvious example). And while the "For Whites Only" signs have come down, it doesn't stand to reason that alone means self-hood and dignity has been restored along with it.

Obviously, I can't speak for Dr. King but I think it's safe to assume that he would have seen Obama's election as a deeply meaningful step forward in the emancipation of a nation; not just for Blacks but for all peoples. However, that would not have been the fulfillment of his dream. Obama's election is symbolic - at least right now. Time will only tell if it's transformative for our nation as a whole and it's that transformation that is absolutely, irrevocably key to the "Dream" speech. So yes, it is a marvel to consider that tomorrow, the day after MLK's birthday, a Black man will be sworn in as President. I revel in that historic moment. But it's a small step in a larger movement that has yet to be fulfilled; that is far, far, far from being fulfilled.

That whole vision of "little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers" can't be read into Obama's election. Far from how it's been spun, his election cannot be read as absolute proof of the transcendence of racial attitudes or resistance; as I tried to stress a few months ago, Obama's lost the White vote nationally (as has every Democratic candidate since LBJ). What has fundamentally changed in America since the 1960s isn't necessarily racial attitudes - it's demographics and that has as much to do with Obama's victory as any major shifts in beliefs or prejudices.

My first order of change: get the hell off the Obamicon.Me site. Just wrong, wrong, wrong.

No comments: