On November 4, 2008, Barack H. Obama, was elected the 44th President of the United States, needless to say, he was the first black man or woman to hold that distinction. On November 5, 2008, The View’s co-host Whoopi Goldberg told America, “ I could put my suitcase down, finally.” In some quarters she was roundly applauded in others, the skeptics like me winced. Feeling like a guest in your own country is like being part of a timeshare, you pay for the upkeep, vacuum the carpets, sit on the patio, and buy the groceries but it is not yours. Another famous black woman said during the Democratic primary season, “For the first time in my adult life, I am really proud of my country because it feels like hope is finally making a comeback,” said then-future First Lady Michelle Obama.
Of course, this sparked an immediate deplorable right-wing frenzy. The wife of Obama’s opponent Cindy McCain wrapped herself in the flag and proclaimed her never wavering love for the country, “I have and always will be proud of my country,” she said. Mrs. McCain was born Cindy Lou Hensley. Hensley is a dignified old English name. Her Husband John McCain’s name is of Gaelic derivation, possibly Irish-Scottish. Why is that important you ask? For most of my life, I have watched America celebrate English royalty as if the American Revolution never took place. As a child, I was dressed in green and wore a shamrock on my shirt collar every St. Patrick’s Day. Oktoberfest kept my great-uncle soaked in German beer celebrating—at least once a year.
There is nothing wrong with enjoying or admiring diversity, within the family of man. Foods, clothing, music are all a connection that should be feted. Being black in America your choice was to assimilate or be called anti-American. Black people in the United States have been forced to justify why we want our differences celebrated too. Actress and former FOX News personality Stacey Dash once asked why we need a black history month, she continued by railing against awards only for blacks, “where you are only awarded if you’re black; if it were the other way around we’d be up in arms,” she said. Ms. Dash, whites had white only awards for decades, The Oscars and Miss America just to name a few; sport’s teams were exclusively white by fiat. The absurdity of her statement on its face is not worth the time but it spoke to her misunderstanding and neediness. Germans spill themselves and their beers into the streets every year for Oktoberfest. The French don aprons and run races with serving trays on Bastille Day, a day that celebrates the fall of an infamous Parisian prison. The Bastille was converted to a prison, primarily for the political foes of the King. The Irish parade around the world on St. Patrick’s Day, a day meant to celebrate a kidnapped 16-year-old boy who escaped slavery and returned to bring Christianity to the Emerald Isle.
In 2013, in response to the acquittal of the killer of 17-year-old Trayvon Benjamin Martin, three black female activists founded Black Lives Matter. The immediate response from the opposition was to be as purposefully obtuse as Stacey Dash and answer with All Lives Matter, we were denied cultural identity even in grief. Trayvon Martin’s life and death spurred a movement that unfortunately took the vivid and blatant broadcast murder of George Floyd, to galvanize, mothers, fathers, sons, and daughters to put down their beers, storm the Bastille and pick up the shamrock. WE ALL, share in this together.
Vote in 2020 for Change.