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What Will I Tell My Kids if Obama Loses?

A Father Sees a Black President Changing the Odds for His Kids, not Himself

New America Media, Commentary, Charles Jones Posted: Nov 04, 2008

OAKLAND, Calif. -- If recent polls are actually realistic indications of the current political zeitgeist, it looks as if America is on its way toward electing its first "black" president.

With such a potentially momentous occasion upon us, I've been forced to realistically gauge what change (if any) a Barack Obama presidency would bring in my life. I'm sadly becoming more and more aware that an Obama presidency would represent the advancement of only a certain sect of black Americans. But I, an uneducated, jobless father of five from the hood, will in no way benefit economically or socially.

Over the last three years, I've applied for more than 100 jobs, and have had less than 10 interviews. Some applications were for such low-paying jobs as a cashier at McDonalds, while others were in media or youth mentoring, in both of which I have more than 10 years of experience.

I can't see myself suddenly becoming a hot commodity in the job market because we have a black president. If anything, it would probably hinder any vestige of a chance I have for personal success because the bar will be raised -- and I am in no way "like" Barack Obama. For me, that is the one drawback of an Obama presidency: the possibility that black people from the hood will be further discriminated against.

But that's also where I, as a parent of five, feel obligated to vote for Obama. Not because of what it will mean for me, but what it could mean for my kids, as I'm making every effort to ensure that they get the hands-on parenting and education that I didn't.

Outside of that, only two things come to mind when analyzing this possibility, and they aren't so much thoughts as feelings: First is a fear of too quickly accepting and embracing the idea that the COINTELPRO, Iran/Contra, crack-dealing, racial-profiling, Rodney King-beating country that I grew up in, would EVER elect a black man to power.

Let us never forget that this is the same place where less than 200 years ago it was perfectly legal and socially acceptable to own, beat, brand, rape, and/or kill a black person, however or whenever a white person saw fit. A country where for hundreds of years we, as black people, were legally denied the ability to own land, marry, read or write the English language, or speak our native African dialects. This is a country where white women beat themselves up and carve B's into their own faces to galvanize support for Obamas opposition; where dogs have enjoyed more freedom and representation than we have as a people.

So the first thing that truly comes to mind is fear.

The second (which I can only categorize as an emotion) is hope. Not, I-hope-I-can-get-to-work-on-time, or hope that I can still fit in these jeans, but a real tangible feeling that this country, after years of resting on its laurels, is beginning to take a few more baby steps toward being as great as it advertises.

The possibility of a black president is one that gives me hope that the footwork my wife and I are putting in to give my kids a better life than we had, or ever can have, can actually bear fruit. That if Obama has a "successful" tenure as president, maybe then other people of color (like my kids) can have an opportunity at advancement.

I can proudly say that we raise our kids pretty progressively - not politically progressive, but progressive in how we educate them on history, race, and policy, and how it affects their daily lives and the lives of those they love.

But then, back comes the fear, because he hasn't even been elected yet, and with my kids being so politically aware (and not just aware, but active), if Obama loses, what will I tell them? They see the polls on TV, the white moms who drop off their kids at school in Obama T-shirts, and tell more jokes about Sarah Palin than BET.

So what do I tell them if he loses, after every clear indication leads one to believe that he will coast to victory? How do I keep them politically motivated? How exactly do I "keep hope alive" when I don't even have it in abundance? How do I convince myself?

Charles Jones is a writer at New America Media.

Related Articles:

Millions of African-Americans to Vote in Historic Election

Blacks Surge in Early Voting

More from Charles Jones:

NBA Referee Scandal Cheapens the Sport of Basketball

Slumping Record Sales Good for Real Hip-Hop Artists

Vicks Sentence Shows America's Racist Ways

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