Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Black Man's Burden

How long has it taken to finally let African Americans feel that they are a vital part of this nation which they helped build? What a terrible burden to have to carry! Will it now be lifted?
This is an amazing journey for all of us.

As a white male, I could "pass" for being an "American" in ways that people of color could not, in ways that people with visible disabilities can not, in ways that women still can not.
And when will their burdens be lifted?

How long has it taken for the United States to finally figure out that racism and sexism are mental disorders?
Does sanity require a majority vote? Apparently, it does.
Does it simply emerge from our souls and slowly grow until one day we know something
that our ancestors may not have been able to see?

Barack Obama isn't President because America came to its senses.
He was elected because America turned greedy and stupid,
and had nowhere else to turn
than to a people who had kept the faith,
who had witnessed the truth,
and, like the oppressed before them,
became a reservoir of strength and grace, chosing compassion over violence, love over hate.

But this mixed-race scholar and organizer, this brilliant and compassionate man,
has stepped up to carry an enormous burden
for all of us. He can not carry this burden alone,
nor is it right to ask him and his family to do so.

My ancestors never owned slaves,
and they were oppressed, themselves, as many minority groups around the world.
But I can see as clearly as the noon sun
that Barack is my brother and Michelle is my sister.
They have come to help put our nation in order,
to serve us all, to carry a burden that belongs to all of us.

So, let us rededicate ourselves,
Let us inaugurate ourselves,
in this great vision and mission,
to once and for all lift the black man's burden
and the burdens of all those burdened by exclusion,
not just for their benefit, but for the benefit of all,
that they might have the strength to help carry ours.

Black men and women, and girls and boys,
and those who are brown, yellow and red,
and those who may have different abilities,
it is time to bind our partnership in this great land
with a very simple knowledge,
that prejudice and ignorance are self-defeating
mental defects - and that no one deserves to
carry the burdens of racism or sexism or other prejudices.

On this Inauguration Day, we find ourselves in the company of
greatness, not just the Obama's, but all of us.
Let's all pledge to be part of the solution to our many challenges,
and to rid this nation of prejudices - not just because they
can diminish others - but because they diminish all of us.