You know, usually when something monumental happens I tend to write some kind of commentary or rant on it. I try to make poignant important points while peppering things with my own snide assholish humor. But sometimes, even I don’t have the heart.
Today is Martin Luther King day. Basically we celebrate the life (and death) of a visionary who dedicated himself to a fight for equal rights for people of all colors and was gunned down for his troubles. In doing so, like Ben Kenobi, he became "more powerful than you could ever dream." For a long time, even that power wasn’t enough.
A couple months ago, the United States of America chose to elect a black man as their leader. Something Dr. King probably hoped would happen but could never have even dreamed would occur in the lifetime of himself or even his children. King was shot long before I was ever born, and even I never believed this would happen in my lifetime.
Steph often asks me why I didn’t vote for Obama. Didn’t I feel it was my duty to do so as a black man. Didn’t the symbolism of it outweigh every other belief i have? The simple answer is, no it doesn’t. Aries Spears was on Conan tonight and he admitted that it didn’t matter what Obama’s politics were, he voted for him because he was the black guy. He voted for him to send the message to every young black kid across America. You can make it. You can get out of the hood by becoming a rapper. You can get out of the hood by becoming an athelete. You can get out of the hood by becoming the president of the United States of America. I actually agree with Aries. It is a very important message.
And that is why I didn’t vote for him. At the end of the day, I’m kinda weird politically. I’ve never voted for a primary party candidate for president, because I always find that some third party candidate represents my beliefs better, including my belief that alternate views need to be heard in order for this country to ever move on beyond where we are. That really and truly does mean a lot to me. I do like Obama. Truth is, I actually kind of like McCain. And I gave a lot of hard thought to who I was going to vote for this election. And I was probably closer to being swayed than I ever have been before. But at the end of the day, I decided it was more important to me to vote for Cynthia McKinney, who by the way, also happens to be black, but that had nothing to do with it.
The thing is, I believe in Change. Real change. By all rights, there’s more about this country that I would change than Obama would ever even pretend to believe in. I’m what you call a dissident. I’m not stupid. I know that these things don’t happen overnight. It takes baby steps. And if this were 1968, I firmly believe that I’m the kind of person who would have voted for ANY viable candidate just because he was black. His politics beyond that wouldn’t have mattered to me in the slightest. Had I been of voting age in 1984, I would have voted for Jesse Jackson for much the same reason.
I’m proud that I live in America of 2009, where I simply felt that I didn’t HAVE to. That, you see, is progress. Mike Huckabee once said on the Daily Show that he loved that we finally live in a country where he could disagree with a black candidate politically and pretty much simply ignore the color of his skin. Whether you like Huck or not, I think that’s a very important point, and I agree with him 100%.
Do I think Obama is the best man for the job? Not necessarily but I think he’s going to do a pretty good job, and truth be told, my candidate was unelectable and I’m glad he won.
I can only hope that the next four years go well for him. I hope that we have, as a nation, made it as far as I want to believe we have, and I hope it doesn’t end the way things ended for Dr. King. If we are to celebrate August 4th as a holiday 40 years from now, let it be because of how he lived and not how he died. And all in all, I sincerely hope fhat in 40 years we don’t feel the need to celebrate a victory in civil rights at all.
That’s the closest I ever get to optimism, people. Let’s just hope I’m not wrong.