A day before the presidential election and my mind, no… my spirit is plagued with feelings of guilt and shame. As James Baldwin explained to many of us decades ago, “Color is not a human reality, it is a political reality.” If permitted, I would add to Baldwin’s summation that this illusion we call race is also a forced social, as well as economic reality. I identify myself as a Black Man in this society out of a necessity to be able to function effectively within its confines; to maintain some semblance of life balance and, often, to be able to make sense of the senseless. Awareness, or lack of this awareness, can often mean the difference between life or death in circumstances that might appear benign to the uninitiated. There is no fear associated with these words, only a type of knowing earned through centuries of a peculiar social gestation. The mountain top visited by Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King jr. some decades ago is not some far off place of the imagination, it is a common land visited often by those whom Ralph Ellison identified as the “Invisible.” Knowing can be a curse. My awareness makes me ashamed of having voted for Senator Barack Obama.
I voted early, and with great trepidation. I am no seer or soothsayer and I cringe at the thought that someone might apply any degree of mysticism to my words. I simply realize the truth in the old adage that “time is a tutor.” From my forbearers, in this land, I’ve been bequeathed a psyche conditioned by brutal servitude compounded with the mind and spirit that would settle for nothing less than unencumbered freedom. From the mountain top view, I fear nothing for the man Barack Obama. We men make our choices in this life and dare not call ourselves men if we back down from the difficult terrain ahead of us; this I understand. My shame at having cast my vote for Barack Obama has to do with the guilt I possess in knowing that I am taking away a husband and a father from a family unprepared for the eventualities of their lives. My shame is in knowing that I, for selfish reasons, for wanting to see this nation live up to its’ ideals and pronouncements, have relegated this family a suffering that should not have to be endured by any soul. A man makes his choices and it is often his family that must pay the price. This has been, and continues to be our history in this nation, a history of Black Men.
Foremost, I am under no illusion that this man, Obama, or any other human being for that matter, is capable of redirecting this nation’s misdirected foreign/domestic policies or altering its path of implosive, self-destructive behavior. No human being is capable of such Herculean feats. The humor in all of this, if we’re permitted such moments of levity, is that while everyone is looking to this man as an “agent” of change, he staring back at each of us hoping that we realize that we are the “true” agents of change. There is an African proverb that says, “The ruin of a nation begins in the homes of its’ people.” My vote for Obama was a very selfish act on my part due to the fact that I know the outcomes in advance. Many of those who call out his name in joyful tones today will, in tomorrow, possess less than admirable views of him. The psychic pathology rooted in this nation’s soil will have a new enemy within to identify itself against (it cannot survive without an enemy). That pathology will unify itself around the twisted roots of what we euphemistically refer to as racism, which in fact, if truth is to prevail, should be unveiled and known for what it truly is: “evil.” The responsibility for previous administration’s mismanagement of domestic and foreign affairs will disappear in a mist of a selective juxtaposition of fact and fantasy. Many will not understand the compromises he will have to make to push forward on many of the promises he has made. The list of inevitables is endless and I don’t want to appear the pessimist in a time of extreme hope and optimism but I must state things as I am and have been witness to them.
This day, today, the day before the election, there is no doubt in my mind that Senator Barack Obama will be this nation’s next president. No… I am not a pundit, nor an election analyst, just a man who has been tutored by time. The conditions we currently find ourselves suffering under warrant Wednesday morning’s results. It may make little sense to many of you now, but, first and foremost, I must offer my apologies to Mrs. Michelle Obama. I am aware that you are an exceptionally intelligent woman and I believe I know the measure of contemplation that occurred before proceeding down this path but, I am also aware that there is nothing that can prepare us for the type of life journey that you and your family are about to begin. You truly deserve more than what this nation is prepared to offer you and your children. To Malia and Sasha, my apologies to you feel almost empty. There are no words to articulate the remorse I possess in taking from you the right of every young woman to grow in the security and comfort of the shadow of her father until she reaches his height. If I had had your best interest at heart I would have voted against Barack Obama and given your family back your mother’s husband, your father. May God watch over you all in what are sure to be difficult days ahead.