February 2009

Demanding Accountability

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A New Racist America
or a Step Toward Humanity?
Advice for President Barack Obama

By Ron Lee

President Barack Obama

As the 44th President was sworn into office, headlines rang out in the mainstream media of a black man becoming President of the United States; headlines that, by their mere nature and tone, are, in fact, racist. Barack Obama is not first and foremost a black man, nor is he an African man. He is an American. And, I fear that through this great struggle of equality for all God's children, that has come so far in the 46 years since Martin Luther King Jr.'s, "I have a Dream", speech, there is still much work left to be accomplished and it should start at the top with this new man that we now call President.

Gone should be the days of the segregating use of African-American, Mexican-American or any other form of American hyphenation. If we are to truly be united and equal then we, the people of this great nation, should embrace the simple fact that we are all plain Americans - brought together by our humanity as one race; a brotherly bond that transcends skin color, gender and religion. Anything other is promulgating an agenda of separation and discontent; special rights, not equal rights.

Also, gone should be the days of affirmative action. Not because anyone should be kept down, but that the best should be lifted up, rewarded for achieving the highest score or work related qualifications, not punished because of the color of their skin or that they were born a different gender.

These ideologies have lived-out their usefulness and now breed nothing but that which they were designed to fight - racism.

In Martin Luther King Jr.'s own words, "I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character." His dream was not to raise the "black" man to equality with the "white" man, but rather, to strip the need for a segregation of skin color at all, thereby creating a place where people are just that ... people - human beings sharing in their existence.

With an invocation, given by Pastor Rick Warren, that began, "Today we celebrate the hinge point of history with the inauguration of our first African-American president of the United States. We are so grateful to live in this land, a land of unequaled possibility where the son of an African immigrant can rise to highest level of our leadership," it is clear that equality has no place in this new world. The invocation proves that the focus is still on a separation of skin color and lineage. It focuses on what should be a mute point. Again, I say, President Obama is not first and foremost a black man, nor is he an African man. He is an American whom the majority chose to lead us; whom the majority felt was the best qualified.

If you voted for President Obama because of the color of his skin then you are, in fact, "racist".

Dare I float the question, because President Obama chose to accept this invocation and separate himself by the color of his skin and lineage, is President Obama "racist"? Let's be real. Anything other than accepting Human as the only race creates a separation, and is, in fact, "racist" by its mere definition.

While I did not vote for President Obama, it was not due to his skin color - I like to say that I am colorblind to the different hues of humanity. I voted for who I thought would lead us by the letter of Constitutional law. (Remember that perfect document that is the cornerstone of our nation?) And, it wasn't McSame, I mean McCain, either! As for President Obama, I was truly pleased to hear his inaugural address. I think it was well written, to the point and, as always, very well delivered. I'll admit a spark of excitement as he said, "Forty-four Americans have now taken the presidential oath. The words have been spoken during rising tides of prosperity and the still waters of peace. Yet, every so often the oath is taken amidst gathering clouds and raging storms. At these moments, America has carried on not simply because of the skill or vision of those in high office, but because we the people have remained faithful to the ideals of our forebears, and true to our founding documents. So it has been. So it must be with this generation of Americans." I might even say I became "hopeful"; that was until I heard the benediction given by Reverend Joseph Lowery:

"Lord ... we ask you to help us work for that day when black will not be asked to get in back, when brown can stick around ... when yellow will be mellow ... when the red man can get ahead, man; and when white will embrace what is right ..."

In that moment, I felt that all potential good for humanity was undone by pointing at a color and saying that it has embraced wrong, when, in fact, it is just a shade of skin that holds together people's innards. In that summation, it showed to me that America still breeds racism at its highest levels, and that Martin Luther King Jr.'s dream of a "colorblind" world is still a long, long way off, because we have the first "black" President.

If I could speak directly to President Obama ... "My recommendations to you, Mr. President, if you truly believe what you said, that, 'On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn out dogmas, that for far too long have strangled our politics,' and that, 'We are shaped by every language and culture ...' then remove yourself from the language of separation and hyphenation of our true nature. Be the only real hyphen that matters: Human-American. And, do what you say you will by, 'remain[ing] faithful to the ideals of our forebears, and true to our founding documents,' and you will become the President that destroyed racism and united all Americans behind a government that is truly for, by, and of the People - anything else will, by its nature, just be 'racist'."

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