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Tears Again: A Black Man's Perspective on Obama's Emotional Run for President

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Tears Again: A Black Man's Perspective on Obama's Emotional Run for President

by mbilal

I find myself in tears again- an overwhelming weeping that seems to accompany my personal journey through Barack Obama’s edgy run for president. These tears are overwhelming because I am not easily led to tears. As a child, my family moved a lot, and I grew up in the crack/gat- filled streets of Northwest D.C., West Baltimore, and San Francisco’s Fillmore District. Tears, a stereotypically female response to stress, didn’t work in my neighborhood(s). Survival depended on systematic abatement of any and all “weaker” emotions.

Today, I am a survivor, a father, and apparently, a crier. During the Iowa Caucus victory speech, I cried like a 4 year-old leaving Disneyland. They were strange tears - a mixture of awkward joy, confusion, and painful hope. Could a brown-complexioned man of African-descent actually become president of the United States of America? It was the first time, the very first time, that I felt anything but bitter ambivalence for American politics. Don’t get me wrong, I vote. But voting has everything to do with my personal need to feel like I have a real voice in the outcome of my country. There is a layer of my identity, one carved from experiences of discrimination and mistreatment based ridiculously on the hue of my epidermis, that perceives American politics as an elite discursive exercise reserved exclusively for affluent white men. Talk about ‘lack of emotion’. In the black community, primaries and elections have always been predictably uneventful: “and the winner is…” another inauthentic white man. Until Obama, democratic and republican presidential nominees felt like more of the same.

I cried when he lost to Hillary Clinton in Massachusetts. I hoped that other Obama supporters wouldn’t lose hope.

When he talks about American children learning science, music, and art, not just learning “to a test”, I cry; when he talks about bringing the troops home, I cry; and when he talks about a new America built on diplomacy, intellect, and cultural unity, I cry. This is the America I never had, the one I never realized I needed.

During Obama’s Tuesday night speech in response to statements made by Reverend Jeffery Wright, I remember the clamminess of my hands, the emptiness of my stomach, and the dryness of my eyes. Part of me resented the forces at work forcing him to apologize for someone else statements. I tried to keep in mind that Hillary Clinton had apologized for Geraldine Ferraro’s statements and that McCain had apologized for Bill Cunningham’s statements. So why shouldn’t Obama apologize? But something was awry.
As Obama continued his speech, vowing not to “disown” Reverend Wright, the black community, or his white grandmother, something new happened to American politics, to America, to me. Without batting an eyebrow, without ever coming off as inauthentic or untrustworthy (a mainstay for most politicians), Obama highlighted the unfairness embedded in America’s complex racial dynamics just by showing up to give a unadulterated speech about it. As a black candidate that most white Americans thought was “beyond” America’s racial mire, Obama was left with two responses to Wright’s statements: to apologize and completely disconnect from Wright or to say nothing. Obama created a radical third option, to face the public and speak honestly. And as he spoke to me like an adult, calmly deconstructing America, race, and religion, I was overwhelmed, again. A brown-complexioned man of African descent was challenging his countrymen to look not only upon his face, but also upon theirs, to participate in building an America that is truly beyond the aesthetic differences of our troubled past.

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Views: 505
A black man coming to grips with Barack Obama's run for president, specifically its evocation of new found emotions.
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Open Mic Comments

5
Average: 5 (2 votes)

This is a powerful statement. I am glad that a black man can talk openly about his emotions.

It's great to hear someone open up about their emotions, especially regarding politics. We all care about politics to one degree or another based on our emotional response to issues and people. Great pic of the kids in the background photo also!

Your tears are a sign that you are strong...there is no shame...He WILL BE THE PRESIDENT...WE WILL CRY..FOR JOY

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