by Guest Blogger Melissa Muhammad
Originally published 11.4.08
Regardless or the outcome of this historical election, the Black community has made a tremendous jump today. We have united under one cause, one banner to bring something specific into fruition. The election of a Black man into the highest office in the United States of America.
Today we put aside our differences, our preferences, or shortcomings in order to support one Black man that has displayed the intelligence, the discipline and the grace that the nation can gather behind. Yet we are not quite clear as to whether or not this means we will benefit any more now than we have in the past. To say the very least, this is a remarkable and profound moment indicating the tremendous growth of consciousness of the Black community.
Sadly however, we did not come to this point solely of our own volition. In this instance, as in many of our remarkable victories in the past, it was done with the aid of sympathizing Caucasians, Latinos, Asians, etc. Others, particularly Caucasians, who are a bit more tolerable toward us than their parents were. Today is a day wherein we, Black men and women of America, can all hold our heads up high, yet in the back of our minds we must acknowledge that we still have yet to come to the conclusion that we must come together with out the prodding or presence of others outside of ourselves.
On a personal note, after I cast my ballot at my designated polling center. I felt the significance of this day. I got the opportunity to feel what my parents felt when they cast their ballots for the Rev. Jesse Jackson, Sr. as he ran for president of the U.S. in 1984. That sense of, yes, pride; that sense that this was for me just as much as it was for my community and that it was indeed going to make a difference. As I was leaving the polling center I was pleased to greet my childhood friends coming in to vote and others I knew from my community. Yet, for all of the joyous emotion I felt as a Black woman casting my vote for a Black man to lead this country, there was notably something missing on this day, a connection. What was missing was the connection that Black people in Chicago felt when we walked to school after the election of Harold Washington, the first Black mayor of Chicago, the connection we felt after the Million Man March, the kind of connection we feel after a Black victory. It was missing.
I dare to say, that as a people we have come to the understanding, be it true or false, that we must unite to make specific things happen, such as a presidential campaign, even if it is not clear what we stand to gain by doing so. We honestly cannot say what this means for the Black community in terms of improving our condition; but we can say, once again, that we indeed have the ability to unite under a cause greater than ourselves.
Now the question is, what are we going to do with this understanding that our unity matters and whatâ€™s next?