When a young man wakes up in the morning, decides the best articles of clothing in his closet is a match of white tees, faded blue jeans, and a pair of white tennis shoes of whatever brand he chooses for it to be today, and from thence proceeds to his office—the neighborhood street corners: it’s without doubt no “ethnic” presidential candidate can wink away a culture that’s responsible for such; a culture that has likened itself to the Bubonic plague in its unparallel and unmerciful destruction of the generational bedrock of any community—its young men.
So with such in mind, it’s hard to go anywhere in the black community nowadays without being affronted with the “Oh Welcome Ye Messiah!” theme song that has been accorded Mr. Obama. Mr. Obama is a phenomenon (to find something comparable, you’d probably have to go back to the 3rd century when the African Lucius Septimius Severus became the first Emperor born and raised away from Rome and Italy to rule the vast and powerful Roman Empire)—in a nation that owes its success partly to a paralytic slave industry. Hence in a reasonable world, it’s understandable the ubiquitous delirium, most especially in the black community, that has accustomed Mr. Obama’s candidacy. But to expect a change of the guards just by Mr. Obama’s ascension into presidential office is a theory in itself riddled full of wishful thinking and fallacy.
The statistics on young black men in America is obscenely scary—enough to cause the whole of the civil rights fighters of old to stage a hurried march on Washington, DC. According to a recent study by the nonpartisan Pew Center on the States, you’d be hard-pressed not to take a second, third, and even fourth look at the fact that one in every nine black men ages 20 to 34 is behind bars (A figure unrivaled by any other race in America)! About 15,000 homicides are committed in the United States each year, and more than half of those are committed exclusively by black men. And as though that were not enough, a black man is almost rest assured, if not certain, to be lying in his grave as a result of actions by a fellow black man (a black man is more likely to die by homicide than any other race in the United States). Furthermore, a MRDC study started in 1993, shows employment rates for young black men have been steadily declining since 1970, and even at the peak of the Clinton boom years before the war-laden Bush years came along—1999—black young men aged 16 to 24 were far more likely to be neither working nor enrolled in school than their Hispanic or Caucasian counterparts.
Definitely a consortium of factors can be blamed for the perpetuation of this culture, and primary responsibility here has to reside within the community. But the mass disproportionate injustice in the criminal justice system has to be the first to raise its hand on roll call (with father figures locked away, you have to wonder where direction for young men’s going to come). Across-the-board failing school systems that have done little or nothing to bolster academic achievements among black students must definitely raise its hand in tow. Dejected and slummy neighborhoods among lower-income blacks that make even me, another young black man, scared to step out of his car without taking armies of precautions must not go uncalled out. I’m not unaware of the fact that these realities and a whole lot more are dictated by political climates, which have gone to foster generalized distrust of white establishments by black people, and white’s perceived fear of black lawlessness.
In this sense, Mr. Obama readily recognizes and embraces his role, and has been careful not to be labeled an “ethnic” candidate. In his days in the Senate to date, Mr. Obama has co-sponsored an initiative that calls on young black men to be more responsible, better stewards of their families and communities (and it definitely would be of great help if elders such as the Rev. Jesse Jackson do not threaten to castrate him whenever he calls black men to task). For the very same reasons that make Mr. Obama a “Messiah,” he can readily speak to these ills the way no other president to date can, and encourage young black school kids everywhere to reach for the sky—as is the case already. This, people, is change we can believe in.
In essence, the young black man in America must undoubtedly undergo a renaissance to save his race. Young black men have to embrace the words of the late hip-hop artist Tupac Amaru Shakur, “. . .We gotta start makin’ changes, learn to see me as a brother instead of two distant strangers and that’s how it’s supposed to be. How can the Devil take a brother if he’s close to me?!” The young black man must fight those tendencies that puts him at the mercy of the criminal justice system, those tendencies that have him leaving his kids the sole responsibility of his black woman, those tendencies that have him falling farther behind as the bedrock of his community: and then, only then, can anybody aggressively hold white America to task for past and present grievances.