Then and now and still a long way to go

Published 10:14 pm Monday, January 19, 2009

I’m not really a fan of taking the easy road because I know I’ll eventually have to travel twice as far.

Every day I’m losing hope that the majority of people in this country are willing to look around and take note of the fact that there are dangerous problems within an arm’s length of them.

I’m trying to make sense of the fact that on one side of a street there is a six-figure home, and right across the asphalt a family of four can’t afford to turn the heat on and eats meals they can make with plastic cutlery.

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I’m still having trouble justifying how moving en masse out of an area and creating a new life with several other like-minded people does a community any good.

It bothers me that there are still black people in this country that believe exhibiting any talent, intelligence or action that is abnormal will get them in trouble.

It bothers me that there are still white people in this country who will swear up and down they are not racists and could not speak with any depth on a single issue involving minorities.

What bothers me most are the people in between both sides — the educated, the influential and the people who, regardless of color, watch the fight from afar and make wagers on other people’s backs.

I don’t want any people reading this to sit in their chairs, nod their heads and mumble, “How true, how true.”

What I’d really like is for people to ask themselves two questions every day: How did I get here? What am I doing that is helping someone else?

I never dreamed of being the managing editor of any newspaper. I never thought I would stand in front of a classroom and tell students to do something meaningful with their lives.

Yet here I am, a black man with a voice in a town that used to stifle anything that disrupted racial conformity.

I have never heard the words “dream,” “hope” and “unity” so much since the election of Barack Obama. They are powerful words, but still words.

Obama is a unifier. He is a visionary. He is entrusted with more political power than any other man on the planet. But he is not a savior.

Although he makes decisions that will affect your neighborhood, he is not in your neighborhood.

As many people who look to him in hope, there are twice as many people who see him as a threat to a life tainted by comfort.

Each day I fear someone will act on that threat. It seems no man considered to be a “people’s president” lived to see his fullest potential.

This is not meant to shower cold water over anyone’s enthusiasm. This is a call to reality. The worst mistake any society can make is to dwell on a single success.

Until there is no divide between rich and poor, black and white, educated and ignorant, we cannot say, “Yes we did.”

We cannot lean on the president. He needs his people much more than they need him.