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Monthly Archives: November 2008

I visited the St. Louis Bread Company (or Panera’s) on Delmar in St. Louis, MO.  This particular St. Louis Bread Co is in the famed University City, MO (this particular strip is known as the “U-City Loop”).  Actually, “university” is apropos because when I think of “university”, I think of cosmopolitan or a plurality of ethnicities, lifestyles, worldviews, cultures, etc.  In less than one hour, I saw people of Asian descent.  I saw people of what appeared to be Iranian or Middle East descent.  I saw men who seemed to be from the Caribbean.  I saw two African-American men walking and frolicking with what appeared to be their white girlfriends.  I saw dreadlocks and braids.  I saw a brother wearing an Afro; I saw a Bread Co worker wearing a ponytail.  I saw women of all shades with long hair and short hair.  I saw a young white couple making goo-goo eyes and acting goofy.  I saw what appeared to be college students.  I saw black and white men meeting together; I saw black and white having lunch and embracing; I saw proudly displayed tattoos.  I saw white men and black men wearing sagging pants.  I saw people who appeared to be interracial.  I saw mommies with kids; I saw what appeared to be table full of women of Greek or Italian descent.  I saw daddies with their kids.  I saw rich, vivid and bright colors.  There was a real vibrancy and rhythm to this place; and boy, it felt right and natural!

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I had lunch with a good friend today.  He mentioned that he had read my blog entitled, “obama elected president: unbelievable.”  He found it fascinating that many whites, that he had unofficially polled thought that Obama would win and many blacks thought the contrary (namely, Obama would loose).  Strange to say the least…?  Not really.  I suppose I can speak for many African-Americans.  I would say these words or phrases come to mind when I think about the African-American experience in America: ‘jaded’, ‘cynical’, ‘realistic’, ‘many times disappointed” and “suspicious’.  Most Blacks I would imagine thought something might be done to sabotage the election and tip the scales in favor of McCain/Palin.  Gladly, I and many more blacks were proved wrong.  But no black person is naive; we, as a country, have a ways to go in the area of race relations. 

I too like my friend offer some cautions and comments:

1) Obama is not the “secular savior” as one writer put it.  He is finite and fragile.   So, he will make mistakes.  Being caught up in obama-mania might blind you to this reality.

2) It is a dangerous mistake to align oneself to a particular party because one can loose objectivity. 

3) I have said this before, picking Palin as a running mate spoke volumes about McCain’s decision making ability.  What was he thinking?

4) I think it is quite sad that people are calling Obama the devil or antichrist or comparing him to Hitler.  Are you kidding me?

I had coffee with a good friend yesterday.  He told me that people (sadly some Christians too) are comparing Obama’s presidency to Hitler.  Yes, the same Hitler that decimated millions of Jews and Gypsies.  Can you believe that?  Are you kidding me?  The comparison is absurd and Obama’s presidency has not even started yet.  However, I also remember this is the handsome cost of being the ‘first and only.’  I have been the first black to hold positions that were historically held by whites.  And I have been the only black in a class or department before.  Blacks in this position are under a high power microscope.  Those in the position of being the “first” or “only” have a lot to prove to his or her critics.  If I felt the pressure, just imagine Obama.  I hope Obama has thick skin; he will need it.

A white friend of mine who happens to be a pastor asked me recently, “Luke, do you think Obama’s presidency will help with curing or rectifying the racial divide in our country.”  (He is 38 years old and I am 48 years old; that’s important to know because that 10 year differential is important as I have seen 10 more years of ‘stuff’ than my friend.)  I said to him, “Let’s see if he gets elected first.”  (I was thinking to myself, this will never happen.  I am a realist, you see.)  My wife and I watched and heard Obama give his acceptance speech last night in Illinois.  I could see my wife crying; I was shedding some tears.  This morning around 5 am, I thought about our tears.  And I asked why were we shedding tears?  Perhaps, Obama’s election is in part restitution or pay back for how my grandparents were treated during the Jim Crow days in which they had to get off the sidewalk to allow a white person to pass.  Perhaps, it was Obama’s story of that 106 year old African American lady who voted for this first time.  Perhaps, his election is restitution for how my granddad who served in WWII aboard a navy ship was relegated to the mess hall (because that’s all blacks were capable of doing).  Perhaps, my wife was emotional because she remembers being told by an accounting professor, “You people don’t do well in accounting.”   Perhaps, Obama’s election is pay back for all the times a finger was flipped at me, or the times I was called ‘Nigger’, or the time I was called a ‘token’ engineer.  Perhaps, his election is restitution for all the injustices done to blacks in this country (slavery, the beating of Rodney King, Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment, etc., etc.).  Perhaps, Obama’s election means so much to my wife and I because maybe, just maybe, African Americans will be judged by their character and intelligence and skills and not by the color of their skin.  Perhaps, Obama’s election means so much because maybe other African Americans will be awakened and rise above their situations and not settled for mediocrity.  Perhaps other African American men will rise up and be history makers!  Perhaps, Obama’s election means so much because now my son who is only 14 years old can one day become president of these United States.  He is glad for Obama’s election but also sad because he wanted to be the first African American president!