Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Thoughts on the Inauguration of Our 44th President

Today is a historic day, the inauguration of our 44th President, Barack Obama. I have not had time in a busy day to watch much of the proceedings. I have reviewed some of the speeches and prayers which are already online. Gotta love the internet for quick, selective catching up on the news and world events.

I believe that any objective, rational American or global citizen wishes our President and country well...because if it doesn't go well, everyone in the world will be affected.

Anyone who keeps up with my blogging knows that I did not vote for this President nor find myself in agreement with a number of his positions. The man obviously deserves our respect and admiration for his quick rise to power and his intelligent approaches to getting elected and now entering the legislative phase. Unfortunately, due to the country's and world's long list of problems, I believe President Obama's honeymoon with the electorate will be a very short one.

As usual, I find myself impatient with the USA news media's coverage of this occasion. They tend to focus on the trivial while ignoring most of the important meanings of this day. So much is focused on what the family is wearing, the new Presidential Limo (did our government buy that on credit?), whether the President will walk and where during the parade, and the incessant interviews with all black leaders in Congress and without. The overhyped focus on our President's ethnicity is in my opinion covering up many more important strengths and benefits of this new President.

Let's examine this race issue for a minute (yes, I know, danger danger). Is President Obama black...or white...or neither? If neither, what is he and how important is that? A business associate and I were discussing this yesterday while driving between appointments. His question was, "why are they calling him a black President, and not a white one?". His mother was 100% white, his father 100% black. Why does that make him "black". Ok...some old timers would call him "colored" then. Well, what is that? Whites arguably have more shades of "colored" than blacks. To me, once again, we demonstrate our inane focus on external appearances and not on the behaviors or cultures people come from. To me, while I am happy his election may mark progress towards the end of extreme racism...the race “ceiling” if you will...I am also cognizant that this President is a mix and probably won the election by his appeal to and understanding of the wide range of races represented in the Melting Pot we call America. Now that he has been sworn in, he seems VERY black to everyone on both sides of the division and to the media. To me he acts and speaks like any man of any color. He either makes sense, or he doesn't.

Personally, I have mixed reactions to his pre-election messaging and selections of cabinet and inner circle. I truly believe he wants to be a uniter more than a divider. I believe he wants to do the right thing and quickly move our country and our world towards a rosier future. At the same time, much of his messaging so far has been in support of some fundamental errors I believe our government is committing. The continual bailouts of private industries, from the banks to the funds to the automakers, continue to bankrupt the government coffers which are totally reliant on taxpayer's income and profitability. The President's own party leaders are already expressing concerns about many of his "moderate" positions when they thought they might have carte blanche to ramrod socialism and BIGGER government right down our throats. There are significant movements and legislation designed to continually erode individual rights and freedoms. Some (mostly Democratic) congressmen are introducing bills to limit or heavily tax citizen’s money that desires to invest outside the USA system. Some continue to lobby for bail outs or free loans to their home state industrial supporters and keep stuffing bills with incestuous funding of special interests and lobbyists. Many want to completely obliterate what few semi-free trade agreements we have and turn inward into isolationist, global phobic, and statist minded wimps. These types want to take no responsibility or leadership towards moving America in a more positive direction and instead insist that their government serve THEIR particular interests and weaknesses. These are the people we should be shipping out of our country instead of hard working immigrant types.

America now needs thinkers, workers and leaders. As my friend said yesterday, "the day of everyone being "Kings" and being served is over". It is time to get back to a humble service approach to life that solves problems for the masses while potentially enriching themselves through that service. Entitlements are no longer viable. We need to start building bridges instead of walls. We need to read something besides just the "Wall Street Journal" or "People Magazine". We need to dig for the real news instead of just believing everything CNN or Fox slathers at us.

Like many generations before us, I think we are in for a longer period of difficulty than anyone wants to admit. One day's bounce of the DOW does not mean an end to recession or depression. One short uptick of the dollar or down pricing of oil doesn't signal a real end to inflation or a weak currency. I'm afraid there are still a number of dominos to fall in a row before we find a steady rebuilding of our wealth and institutions. I wish President Obama all the best in facing these many challenges...and I will try and do my part to be productive and practical in light of these interesting times we live in.


IntegrityDemands said...

Dear President Obama:

First and foremost, congratulations on being our 44th President of the United States of America.

During your campaign, I agreed with your call for change and I still do; a change in our economy and a change in how things are done in Washington.

You are the epitome of what positive things can happen from change. A change from the racial divide of miscegenation that so deeply swept our country decades ago to a country known today for accepting people of all cultures, backgrounds and colors. However, I am waiting for one big change…to accept who you truly are…the God made biracial man, our President of the United States. I and my family have been disappointed about the message you give to millions of people throughout our great country by saying if you are biracial you can choose to be of ‘one’ race.

Those who believe that a person who is one part black should identify ONLY with that race support the intolerant one-drop rule created by a racially prejudiced government at a particular point in history. Despite that rule being held illegal (U.S. Supreme Court outlawed Virginia's ban on inter-racial marriage in Loving v. Virginia (1967), it declared Plecker's Virginia Racial Integrity Act and the one-drop rule unconstitutional) there are some who want to hold to that fanatical and discriminatory rule.

This close minded thinking underlies the attack often faced by biracial people that they are trying to deny or are ashamed of who they are. Being biracial does not mean denying the colorful heritages we possess. Personally, I understand the difficulty you may have encountered growing up as a biracial young man, especially having a brown complexion.

Yes, biracial people from the time they are born to the time they die are constantly asked to choose their "primary" race, or others will do it for them. We are called offensive names like; yellow banana, oreo, mutt, etc., all meant to hurt who we truly represent, a nation of one blood. However, this is a new day, a changed day where we can finally embrace who we really are.

To be the 44th President of the United States, who is biracial, should be a proud statement of equality that exemplifies and represents what the United States is known for; a nation that embraces all shades, colors, and cultures of people.

Other well-known people, who are biracial, have expressed their sentiments when asked the question, what are you; Derek Jeter of the New York Yankees said “I’m not black or white but both of these things.” Vin Diesel refuses to segregate himself to one race and identifies himself as biracial. Growing up, he had many questions about his ethnic origins and what they made him. Although most people guess he's part Italian and African-American, he said "I'm hoping I can show kids where you came from isn't as important as what you can make of yourself."

Like you President Obama, I am the blending of two races. My mother is black and my father is white. As with your mother and father, my parents were able to see and experience a love that bridged racial divides.

Throughout the years, as I got older and like you, I faced some extremely difficult and joyful times. Early in my life, I experienced both the harsh reality of my mother and father divorcing and then I witnessed the wonderful blending of new stepparents.

As a biracial child, I remember telling my father about a time when I was in the third grade my teacher asked for the children to stand up based upon their race. When she told all the white kids to stand up, I stood up. When she told all the Hispanic kids to stand up, I sat down. Then she told all the Black kids to stand up and I stood up. My father said that was a defining moment for me in being biracial that I still stand up for today.

When I was 15, I saw a movie with Halle Berry and thought the world of her, as did most teenage males my age. However, I saw her as someone like me, biracial. On my sweet-16 birthday, my father arranged for Ms. Berry to surprise me with a telephone call. From that point on the two of us exchanged letters and referred to each other as big sister and little brother. I believed Ms. Berry was a face of hope for biracial people. I looked up to her because she embodied the blending of races. However as I got older and much to my dismay, I heard Ms. Berry claim that she was black not biracial. This caused me to see the woman, who I once called my big sister, a runaway from all who are biracial. Then another face of hope showed up, you President Obama, only for me to again experience disappointment.

While you were sworn-in as our 44th President and my Commander and Chief that I am proud for you to be, I am preparing to be mobilized to the war in Afghanistan. For the past 10 years, I have faithfully with love and honor served in our Armed Forces. I serve not for myself but for the love of the United States of America.

On election night, you said “This victory alone is not the change we seek – it is only the chance for us to make that change. And that cannot happen if we go back to the way things were. It cannot happen without you. For that is the true genius of America – that America can change.”

Therefore, President Obama we cannot go back to the one-drop of black blood rule. With you as President, America has truly come a long way. However as you said, “there is so much more to do.” As with your children I to want my future children to live to see the next century and be as fortunate as Ann Nixon Cooper; to see a change for all races of people including those of us who are biracial.

The question for you President Obama is what progress will we have made? Identifying to one race, clouds the dream that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. wished for 45 years ago when he said; “I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation that will not judge them by the color of their skin but by the content of their character”.

In your speech "A More Perfect Union" you said that race is an issue that you believed this nation could not afford to ignore right now and I agree. I am part of that next generation of young people you spoke to who possesses the attitude, belief and openness to change that gives you the greatest hope.

I can only ask that during your administration you renew the discussion about race and stand up for me and all of us who are biracial as I stood-up in the 3rd grade. President Obama, now is your chance for your children and all of us who are biracial to clear the clouds about race by answering the call and hopefully move away from the racial categories that exist today.. This is your moment. This is your time.


E C J, U.S. Army

Timothy said...

Hey Ed,

While we have different economic agendas, I can never doubt the thoughtfulness and respect in your political posts. So often people are so determined to see their 'side' win and just want to see their opponents fail. I confess that while the two parties picked their nominated candidates I thought "well if Mccain wins, ill just hope he does really well and isnt as terrible as Bush", but by the end of the campaign I got into an attitude where I never wanted to see him do well and when he said things that objectively were ok I always viewed it with unfair suspicion.

I agree with many of the points you raised, especially the inane nature of political commentary in today's media. Why do they need to create issues (i.e. is this politician wearing a flagpin? Should that matter? Does that make him unpatriotic?) when real issues and problems are everywhere around us and in grave need of attention.

edward said...

ECJ and Tim...thanks for your constructive comments.

ECJ...very well written tome. None of us picks what race or "color" we come from. We all are responsible for how we "deal with it"...if not before "God", then before "men". I support you in wishing all races, mixed or not, to come together under that mantra that all men deserve equal rights and treatment...both at the institutional level and the human.