WARNING: What you’re about to read is a bit out of place for this site. I try my best to keep “The Black Guy Who Tips” a place for you guys to come and escape reality and catch a few laughs. If you choose to read the below post then just prepare to deal with my own issues with racism, politics and patriotism. I completely understand if you don’t want to read this or if you find it to be a bit lengthy. Hell… maybe it’s even got too much rambling in it. This post was more for me than it was for you but if you’re still interested …
I’m a 32 year old man but I was briefly moved to tears this week. Maybe it’s the cumulative effect of fatigue dealing with all the subtle racial nuances of a special unrelenting segment of Obama’s critics. Maybe it’s because I had just read an email sent out to my entire department telling us we couldn’t leave our cubicles for a soda or a snack unless it was during our schedule breaks. Did I mention I am 32 years old? I’m just writing this for myself more than anyone else because I want to examine why I was so affected by this week’s events.
For me, April 27th , 2011 will always be the day when President Obama had to unveil his birth certificate (again) for all the world to see just to stop baseless speculation about his legitimacy as an American citizen. For what? To appease a segment of society that will NEVER be okay with him holding office over our nation. To quash the attention that people like Donald Trump are receiving from legitimate media outlets while riling up “birthers” and TV ratings? Meanwhile anyone with any common sense knows that these people will never fully recognize Obama as president of the United States of America no matter how much evidence lands at their door step. As soon as the birth certificate was revealed (again) the question started up about his grades. The implication in THIS case being that he must’ve benefited from affirmative action since he was black and got into a good school. It was MORE race baiting.
The thought that you can hold the highest office in the land but still have your credentials checked because you happen to be black is very disturbing. It’s a constant reminded that the operative letters that offer the most insult in “DWB” are “WB”. This feels like every time that a black man has ever been harassed for driving on the wrong side of town except this happened to the most powerful man on the planet. It signifies the fact that before all else he is out of place in his current position and has to PROVE his legitimacy for anyone who can gather enough media attention to cause a stir. He’s guilty of presiding while black and nothing else.
I think back to the night of the election results and how exuberant I was about our country and a feeling of belonging that I hadn’t ever felt before. There was a pride in my chest that swelled with belief in progress and unity. I felt like we as a people had broken a racial sound barrier together. I still do believe that to a large extent but some of my enthusiasm has waned. This whole debacle feels like someone hit the reset button on my unsaved season of John Madden football. It’s just not fair.
It’s been a long time coming. It started with the Clintons originally raising suspicions about Obama’s origin and now it’s escalated to where anyone with a webcam and 10 minutes of time can question him. All of this to remind us that he’s “other”. Since then there have been countless incidents that have hinted at his race and highlighted the fact that he’s just not like most Americans. I’ll just remind you of a few.
- Hilary Clinton’s supposition that “hard working Americans” wouldn’t vote for Obama.
- The Tea Party’s accusation that he wasn’t from America
- A republican representative sending out pictures of him superimposed onto the face of a monkey
- The entire reverend Wright debacle that lead to one of the most poignant speeches on race of my life time
- Donald Trump’s latest stint in the media which lasted longer and garnered far more attention than it should have.
Democrats and Republicans have been complicit in this. Both sides of the media have done stories on all of these topics. Maybe these things move ratings meters but they are also divisive and destructive to the psyches of many black people across this nation. It’s a constant undertone that simply says, “you’re less than. You are different.” I’m used to dealing with this underlying tone in most media so rest assured that’s not what made me cry.
What really got to me today were thoughts of my father and the land he owns in Fort Mill, SC. My father (who is still alive) bought some land a while back when I was a teenager. It’s just a plot in a residential community along the side of a lake. We’d go down there and go fishing every once in a while. Sometimes he would talk about building a house down there when he retires and living there while fishing the days away. In my own blissful ignorance I have never truly understood or thought about why he bought that land. There have been times when I’ve even felt it was silly. He would check out quarterly valuations of his plot and tell me how it was increasing in value. Some days his face would beam with pride because he got an offer from a perspective buyer but he would always decline to sell it.
At this point I think the offer could’ve been for double the value of the land and my father would still say “no thanks.” And now today I think I understand. That land represents my father’s right as an American citizen to own something that only he can claim. That is his piece of America and of the American dream. I am 32 years old and I feel stupid for just now realizing this. My father shouldn’t HAVE to own anything to center his patriotism around but the truth is that we are black first and American second. No matter how I would like to be perceived this is the awful truth. My patriotism comes with a buy in that simply isn’t required of people like the ones who question Obama’s legitimacy.
So I cried for a few seconds. I cried because a feeling that I haven’t truly given into for over 2 years so of rushed back. It’s like finding out that cancer that you thought you had beaten is no longer in remission. I cried for my father who literally has to own a piece of America in order to feel like he is no longer owned by America. I cried because I felt humbled a bit because I do live vicariously through Obama and his family. I DO take pride in their blackness and their successes. I will not apologize for that. I cried in protest to the recognition that Trump and his ilk receive as if they have qualified points of view that should be considered.
I do not want to feel this melancholy foreboding sense of worry every time I turn on a radio or TV or press play on a podcast. I thought I had conquered the ability to be hurt by the ignorance of race baiting. Still, when I watched Obama address a room full of journalist who were treating the absurd as if it had credence and should be considered I felt “less than”. I don’t have a happy way to end this. I just don’t want to feel “less than” any more just for being black. I don’t want to be told not to care simply because other people aren’t ready to deal with their own issues of race. I would love to feel American first and black second but that can’t happen until other people decide to accept that premise before dealing with me and “the blacks”.
“This land is your land. This land is my land. But I’m going to need to see a receipt. “