04 April 2008

On Obama Not Going To Memphis

Being black in America is not a punchlist - we are as capable of remaking our own realities as anyone else. It would be nice if Obama could pay homage to every tradition the black community has, but if he doesn't, does that make him less black? Less committed? When I hear Tavis Smiley complain when Obama doesn't come to the Black Summit conference he hosts (although Michelle Obama was offered as a substitute), or read an op-ed piece by Cornel West berating Obama for not laying a wreath on Martin Luther King's grave, I have to wonder if these two have been hypnotized by the green light atop the television cameras that seem to be constantly trained on them. I would hope, especially among our most educated class of African Americans, that we have the ability to understand that some battles are less important than others when we are trying to win the war.

If we never honor Martin Luther King again his spirit would be alright, especially if we are making the kind of headway he himself dreamed about. A martyr who believes that his memory shall retain the same importance in the grand scheme of things forever isn't a martyr. King knew the cost he would have to pay. He understood what he would have to give up - his life - in the struggle he was committed to carrying out.

I can't speak for what he would say today, but as a thinking black man, I know that if it comes down to it, I am comfortable enough with Obama's cultural identity and the choices he has made in his life regarding black america that if he feels he needs to campaign for more votes and put being black on the back burner for a little while, that is fine with me. Whatever he does in the short term, he will be black for the rest of his life.

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