Richard e Hill - a Writer's Journal

Obama in Black and White

Obama in Black and White (an Anniversary Story)

On this date in 2008 Barack Obama was elected as the 44th President of the USA, consequentially “spell check” no longer generates an error warning for his name.


OK, I’ll say it, “Isn’t Barack Obama as much White as he is Black?” Specifically, his mother was White from Kansas and his father was Black from Kenya Africa. Although I gladly and willingly accept the perception of being “Black”; racially coded comments i.e. “real Americans”, “not one of us” notwithstanding. He is “Black enough” for me. The unctuous narcissistic pettifoggers the media has previously anointed as Black leaders/spokespersons have been disconcerting to say the least. Black is a social-political biological perception usually masked or revealed through skin tone. The election of Obama as the 44th President did not solve the Black versus White racial issue in the USA, it underscored the divide as Whites overwhelmingly voted for McCain and Blacks in an even greater percentage voted for Obama.   


Eventually the Supreme Court will define natural born i.e. Does being natural born mean “born in USA, USA territory, USA control, or being born anywhere with one or both parents being an USA national i.e. Canada where Chester Arthur may or may not have born. There is some doubt that McCain could “survive” the same “foreign born” allegations that Obama faced since McCain may or may not have been born in the USA controlled area of the Panama Canal Zone.


While taking my constitutional last year, a Mexican acquaintance supposedly humorously remarked, “America will have its last President if Obama is elected, it will be the end of the USA”. This was too much for my usual mild mannered and timid disposition (alright, stop laughing!). Mexico is still standing after having Black (Guerrero) and indigenous (Juarez) presidents. Furthermore, Gaspar Yanga a.k.a. el Indio (the Indian), was an African nobleman who was captured and sold into slavery on the plantations of Vera Cruz before escaping and fleeing to the rugged mountainous terrain. Yanga allied with the Indian inhabitants and other escaped slaves to form an army that fought the occupying Spanish forces of Mexico to a standstill. Land was ceded to Yanga (a town in Vera Cruz still bears his name) and Google “Black Mexicans” and you will discover brilliant scholarship on these topics as well as well as information regarding the African explorers that visited South America and the Caribbean 2500 years before Columbus. (The logs of Cabral, Columbus, and other explorers of the New World depict “Black” settlements.)

Racial categorization has been a constant work in progress. In the stone age of Information Technology when I was developing systems and applications for the US Army there were just four racial classifications (White, Negro, Mongolian, and American Indian; Spanish and Mexicans were classified as White – the classification of “Other” was eventually added). Today there are ever changing classifications and categorizations using race codes and ethnic types. Ethnic divisiveness was comparatively seamless when you examine the behavior patterns of the ancients. Armies were integrated, there were inter-marriages and the main difference was class ---- what you had as opposed to how you looked.

The divide between Blacks and Whites has a different tenor when you traverse through History. There were Black Pharaohs (excellent February 2008 National Graphic article on same). The Roman Empire encompassed most of Europe from the Mediterranean to Britain, parts of Asia and a portion of Africa. Consequently there were Black popes, Black Roman Emperors (e.g. Severus from Africa and his descendants, and Medici in the region that is now Germany to enumerate some).

There have been some unusual twists in History ---- White armies fighting Arab hordes, Black conquerors of the world, Hannibal defeating the Roman Army using elephants as a precursor to tanks and Black Roman legions fighting White European tribes. Yes, there were White tribes i.e. Celtics, Slovaks and Vandals. Another irony of note --- the liberator of most of South America was a wealthy Black man, Simon Bolivar (born in 1783, the same year that the Revolutionary War in the USA ended).


Culturally there have been Black classical music greats (Beethoven, Haydn, and Mozart) and Jazz giants such as Duke Ellington (I know everyone knows Ellington was Black, but I dig him and he never received the recognition he should have). A by-product of the post Columbus era when slave trading flourished was the classification of race by skin color. To justify the bourgeoning enterprise that was using mostly Blacks; Blacks were dehumanized to the extent that cultural achievement was not recognized, History was bleached, and scientific discoveries were ignored/rewritten.


It was a circuitous route, but the election of Barack Obama as President of the USA is History belatedly repeating.




The Dream and the Torch


The Dreamer’s vision burned in the torch relayed

from emancipation to inauguration

Country once revered for shelter, with respect,

 and melting pot nation

Wallows in economic abyss of self-creation

Multi-hued haves and not’s drinking

from dwindling trough

Voted lock step in hope for new direction

While an impoverished world watched bowed

and bent by the winds of despair

As hope re-ignited the wick burning slowly

 in troubled polluted air

Fusing the charge to restore an embattled

State to preeminent lead

When nightly prayers contained sharing and deeds

 instead of wishes for needs


The Battle is not won, it has just begun

Hear African Jazz singer tribute to Obama CLICK photo



The Vote

The Vote. The ringside seat in Democracy’s arena, the points on the scoreboard, the cheers of voices otherwise unheard, and the plate for your slice of Freedom’s pie.

Those who do not vote determine most elections, the reluctant consenting or dissenting voice. Heard “amen corner” co-signing the favorable or vociferously protesting the unfavorable. The ultimate “political inaction committee”.

Though some voices are stilled by technicalities, most are by apathy. If your voice is silenced by technicality, find a surrogate who was previously reticent. Both will be empowered. If your voice is stilled by apathy, let the pain of exclusion awaken your mind.

The benefits of Democracy are there because someone voted and someone died.

Vote --- it’s the right thing to do.



Joe Louis versus Barack Obama

Joe Louis was hope before Martin Luther King, change before Jackie Robinson, the greatest before Ali, patriotism before Colin Powell and the embodiment of Black pride before the Movement.


When Joe Louis won, we all won. He showed that racism was beatable and survival in a world that was White was possible. He symbolized migration from the South to find opportunity in the North before Mexican immigration garnered attention and jobs. Crowds would gather to catch a glimpse or percance shake the hand of The Champ. He was our rights and our lefts using these powerful hands to pummel his way to the pinnacle of the sports world, dominate the media, and show that being born Black was not a ticket on the back seat of a crowded bus traveling on the bumpy road to irrelevance.


He overcame the transgressions of Jack Johnson and the  divisive rhetoric of Marcus Garvey to reignite the torch carried by Frederick Douglass. Lacking the genius of Carver, the elegance of Ellington, the humor of Foxx, and the charisma of Adam Clayton Powell, but having the support without quota of Blacks joining hands to reach across the great continental divide of separate but unequal to the opened minds and hearts willing to embrace a common way. Joe Louis was the people's Champion.

A comparison with Barack Obama? Barack Obama is Joe Louis.


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