Success and tenacity go hand in hand.
Dave Cunningham / November 20, 2008
There’s Obamanomics, Obamamania, no-drama-Obama, maybe others that I miss here, and probably more Obama- nyms to come as the country transitions. So I offer another – Obamdarity – a word to describe the new easier flow of communication between whites and blacks.
Barack Obama was elected by a plurality that included a majority of whites like me, who grew up through the second half of the century and are proud of what we’ve done in this election. Yes, of course, his domestic and foreign policy positions were preferable for many voters. That is what got him elected. But once the results were in and the world reacted, the significance of what we Americans had done was overwhelmingly apparent. As this awareness grows, a new era of racial communication is emerging.
Two days after the election, I overheard part of a conversation between two African American men. The first man said, “What’s hap’nin, my brother?” The other responded, “Obama, man!” to which the first repeated, “Obama.” It was clear that the one word, “Obama”, carried meaning beyond politics. Obama means we have overcome and we can change. This subtle message is creeping into our national psyche.
At first, I thought I noticed a softening of the inherent fear that exists between us, blacks and whites, on the streets.
I saw a black man standing in the street yelling the word to passers-by, “Obama.” That was all – nothing else – just “Obama.” When he turned to me, he repeated it, “Obama.” When I gave my thumbs-up and repeated, “Obama”, he joined me on the sidewalk where we talked about the election and what it meant to us.
Last week, a black man approached me, directly, smiling. He said “Obama”, to which I responded, “Obama.” We walked on in our own directions, satisfied that bond existed between us.
Yesterday, I was wearing an “Obama – Yes We Did” button as I walked in downtown San Francisco. A brother standing next to me, waiting to cross at a light, strained to see the button and when he read it, he smiled at me and said, “Obama,” to which I responded, “Obama.” As we crossed the street together, we talked briefly, and then parted smiling and shaking hands.
We are stepping across barriers of disconnection and fear into what can be an era of solidarity between blacks and whites or “Obamdarity.” We’ve been through false starts before on this road to racial understanding. We can seize this opportunity if we decide to. I have.