Obama’s Inauguration — Something Doesn’t Feel Right — Jan 16, 2009
By JuJuan Buford
Robbie Tolan. Oscar Grant. Sean Bell.
I know I will no doubt be characterized as a hater for what is to follow. I’ve been called worse by folks who’ve never fed someone less fortunate than themselves without being encouraged, helped a homeless family acquire a residence with their own money, or led a political rally or took a stand alone for an issue that was supremely unpopular. I’ll get over it.
Abner Louima. Amadou Diallo. Malice Green.
I’m having a hard time getting excited about the 2009 Presidential Inauguration. Yes, it is historical. Yes, the image of Obama’s daughters prancing across the White House lawn with whatever little pooch they settle on brings an extended smile to my face.
Regardless of what cynics may exclaim President Elect Barack Obama’s campaign is a significant victory for Black America, and the United States en total for that matter. And yes, a convincing argument can be made that too many of us are simply caught up in the symbolism of his transcendence. Nevertheless, don’t tell me that when little boys and girls across the nation and the globe peer into their television screens at Barack Obama, soon to be President of the United States of America, it doesn’t mean anything.
Still, something doesn’t feel right. It’s hard for me to be jubilant considering how little value is placed on the lives of African American men. I can’t help but reflect upon how likely it may be that the atrocities suffered by the aforementioned could have happened to a friend, my brothers, or me.
I can’t help but to reflect upon how many times I’ve made a late night run to the grocery store wearing a hoody and jeans.
It’s hard for me to be exuberant. My thoughts often drift upon the sheer weight of all the data I’ve consumed over the last twenty years of my life regarding the state of affairs impacting too many of our communities, families, and children. The preponderance of statistical and anecdotal evidence that suggests that Black America is experiencing a 21rst century nadir, and worse yet the supermajority of us are completely oblivious to it.
The reality that if one were to take into account every major factor regarding the quality of life and life expectancy of African Americans, one could not help but to conclude that Black America is falling behind. I mean freefalling like the S&P 500 today. The evidence is undeniable, but we ignore it. Skyrocketing unemployment. Chronic incarceration. Inadequate health care. Academic underachievement. Income discrimination. Poverty. Illiteracy.
Did you know there are growing numbers of communities and cities today whereas African Americans are less literate than we were thirty years after the abolishment of de jure forced bondage (slavery)?
I cannot help but to observe that as the nation’s economy transitions from a manufacturing economy to a service economy, African American men in particular will feel the pinch. See there’s a difference between purchasing a vehicle built by an integrated work force, versus making a purchase, cutting that check, parting with that cash, and placing it in black hands.
My brothers who work in the halls of corporate America certainly understand where I’m coming from, whether they want to admit it or not. Yes, we persevere. We succeed despite it all. But you understand.
I find myself reflecting upon the fact that Black America has become intoxicated with political gains. When in fact the supermajority of our issues are socio-economic. We have it twisted. Economics is the common denominator of politics, not vice versa.
In other words, any political clout or progress made by African Americans is ultimately an exercise in impotence, resulting in only marginal change, because we lack the economic wherewithal and communal continuity to exercise any substantive, consistent agency over the circumstances that color our lives, or exact a penalty against those individuals or entities that would seek to blunt progress, antagonize, or restrict access to avenues of opportunity, power, justice, and liberty.
Michael Jackson, at the time the biggest pop icon to walk the face of the earth, was excoriated for daring to employ the term “kike” in song; a form of artistic expression. Yet, with rare exception (Don Imus) how often have we’ve been forced to endure off color (don’t pardon the expression) comments or jokes regarding African Americans from a variety of shock jocks, late night comedy shows, or the evening news?
When was the last time you read a news report about an unarmed Johnny Stabnowski being gunned down in a hail of bullets the night before his wedding?
It’s difficult. I find myself becoming increasingly nauseated by a growing sense that many of my bourgeois peers could care less about these ruminations.
El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz. Patrice Lumumba. Toussaint L. Ouverture. Dr. Martin Luther King. Fred Hampton.
Something just doesn’t feel right.
Originally published at https://www.catchjsbuford.com.