As usual, terrific article. When Ta-nehisi describes the indescribable joy of having so much black excellence around, taking over the very highly symbolic White House (built by slaves if you didn’t know), it’s… It’s something very strong man. Like something that will never not make me weep a bit.
As beautiful as it is though, some things need to happen for a better world. Things that need to happen to a whole lot of people, not just one amazing family.
the president accomplished major feats. He remade the nation’s health-care system. He revitalized a Justice Department that vigorously investigated police brutality and discrimination, and he began dismantling the private-prison system for federal inmates. Obama nominated the first Latina justice to the Supreme Court, gave presidential support to marriage equality, and ended the U.S. military’s Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy, thus honoring the civil-rights tradition that had inspired him.
Actual, real world for most people out there:
– health-care? Still absolute trash and about to get worse.
– justice? Where?
– prisons? Nothing has really changed at all. Probably about to get worse too.
– Sonia Maria Sotomayor as Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States? Great.
– marriage equality thumbs up? Great.
– military reforms? Sort of, great.
Those points don’t achieve shit for 99% of people. Nothing has changed because economic rules have not changed one bit. Banks can still do whatever the fuck they want, bailed out by governments. Companies get the fuck away from workers, automating as fast as possible and we love it as customers. Redlining and gentrification are happening, displacing people. Reparations –that have been scrutinized by the UN and validated- are not on the table of discussions and even just writing it down feels like an achievement to myself. Taboo af.
Nothing has changed. Besides one thing: black people are doing better than ever. So that’s annoying.
That’s where with all the optimism Barack Obama brings in and that I understand very well –like him, I by default trust white people- I share Ta-nehisi Coates pessimism on the future.
Because I know what’s happening: people are reaching for cover. When you reach for cover, you side with people who look like you, it’s probably some reptilian habits and some lack of courage/good ol’ fear. Many white people will side with powerful racists not because they want it but because ultimately it profits them. Survival requires as we know, to do whatever it takes. Asians don’t side with black people as minorities for those reasons, they don’t want to upset their better relationship with white people. They stay neutral (though it’s changing, which is good). Same with Mexicans (25% of y’all voted Trump, let that sink in).
It’s a trip.
The article wonders about what it’s like to be a black man growing up like Barack or Ta-nehisi. I grew up like both in the way that I was surrounded by white people like Barack but I was in a working class and upper middle class setting like Ta-nehisi. What I got from that is that if you look at yourself in the mirror and see a black person, you are black now and forever. It’s simple, not easy. Your environment will shape a lot of your style –that is, I definitely stand out as “different” in a sea of black folks- but you’ll always be black. You will lean black even if it’s only from time to time. Black things and black culture will titillate your senses in ways other things will not. Sometimes it will annoy you sometimes you will embrace it fully.
I guess it’s the same for all cultures and people like me who grew up in a non-traditional culture.
Anyway next time I’ll write about my solutions to all that.