the Change I Wish to See

...and whatever else it takes to find my pants

Somebody should tell Barack Obama that it's ok that he's black.

It's ok that he went to a primarily black church, with a black pastor, who often spoke to issues specific to the black community. It's not a validly categorized "political liability."

But by aggressively distancing himself from a man who was willing to acknowledge this, it makes me wonder if despite all of the energy and passion this campaign season holds, Tupac is still right: we're not ready to see a black president.

I don't know what Wright is about. Most of me doesn't care. The issue here isn't about Wright as he was en toto, but Wright as he offered the critique of "God damn America." Because that's what all the fallout is about. Truth is, his - perhaps poorly articulated - notion that global politics are integrated and we are a contributing member is neither original nor outlandish and isn't getting press. The idea that the anger we face is in part due to the disdain and ignorance we present and share, isn't offensive to me as long as it doesn't forgive other players their blame for, at best, being led to a river of poison and choosing to drink.

That said, I've written too many dissertations in the last several days, so let me be brief. Some of us are not just black, but black in America. We have parents who had their school buses stoned on integration day; we have grandparents who weren't allowed to have more than a fifth grade education; we have great-grandparents who were slaves. More frighteningly, we have siblings and children who are profiled, denied jobs and denied education.

So we have days where America isn't that great. We have days when we remember what America has done to us. And we have nights on which we go to sleep, praying America doesn't do it all over again in the morning. We will not apologize for our view of America. It's been imputed and it's empirical. Every day we walk out of our homes, we are on stage for America. We are told to behave and not react to micro-aggressions. We are told we've had long enough to assimilate and blend. We are told America is working for us better than it is for others and as well as it ever will. We are told to forget what we are.

We're not ready to see a black president. Because if we were, we'd be ready to see him or her as representative of what so many of us are. Instead, America is rallying behind a black candidate who has chosen not to believe our truth or to only silently embody it.

I'm aware of the risk of essentialism here. I really am. But at one point, it was ok to think there was supposed to be something special about a black presidential candidate. And that "something" was allowed to be more than his audacity to hope. We're not all the same. We don't all have the same history. But for a lot of us, I hope, a black president unwilling to publicly admit that America has given us as black Americans both the best and worst of times, doesn't have whatever that special something we dreamed about is.

I like to think I too have the audacity to hope. And what I hope is that a President Obama understands what gets lost in translation when "God damn America" is uttered.