Pieces of Man: So, Obama Won: Mobilizing Black Men in the 21st Century, an Open Letter
“The task of perfecting our union moves forward.” – President Barack Obama
When I endorsed Barack Obama on behalf of AllHipHop.com, I was shocked and dismayed with the men, particularly African American men, who were completely detached from the political system and process. Furthermore, I was disgusted with the lack of savvy and disenchantment that they exhibited on our comment boards. “I’m tired of voting for the lesser of two evils” stated many, while others elaborated their poor and baseless reasons for not voting at all.
At the end of the day, like it or not, Obama’s trials is a microcosm of many Black men. From the start, he was dealt a horrible hand and was charged with cleaning up a disaster of unfathomable proportions. Honestly, I cannot encapsulate the gravity of the situation. All I know is – since the days of Civil Rights, we’ve seen our men shirk at the clean-up duty, while blaming the disaster. In many ways, we’ve faltered in organizing and nation building, which is vital to our own community. Sad.
Clearly, many of us waited in long lines to support Obama with our vote. What a union we are when we want to be. However, I was worried. I bit off just about every finger nail, while chewing on spaghetti just so I wouldn’t be reduced to chomping on toe nails. I wanted Barack Obama to get the same second chance that George W. Bush received. The same applies to the plight of Black men. Obama’s re-election was a monumental moment and it should be the reason African Americans positively renew their ideologies.
As we lean forward, I must note:
I’m tired of men that have no fight left.
I’m tired of men that have no spiritual backbone or worse, a broken spine.
I’m tired of those of whose beliefs have fallen by the wayside.
I’m tired of those that purposefully cause mayhem and destruction in the community just because…
I’m tired but I am now encouraged and energized to move forward, per the commander-in-chief’s mantra.
And we’re already doing it.
“We’ve got more work to do, but that doesn’t mean your work is done. The role of citizens in our democracy does not end with your vote. Americans have never been about what can be done for us. It’s about what can be done by us – together. The hard and frustrating, necessary work of self-government.” – Barack Obama
This year, I worked with an incredible and remarkably diverse group of people from a wide-range of backgrounds to encourage our people to vote. Biko Baker League and the Young Voters organized the Ignite Tour and put many of us in media and the community in key battleground states to speak to the youth, the discouraged and the so-called disenfranchised. Shout out to the brother Malik Rhasaan of Occupy the Hood for bringing Dr. Cornel West to Hood Week NYC – not to pit him against Obama – but to explain how we hold our elected officials accountable.
Shout out to dream hampton for her intellectual analysis of the community and reminding us that we have to serve and protect our women. And shout out to Janee Bolden, who writes for Bossip.com, Mommynoire.com’s sister site, who has a political compass that has kept young people on course. And then there are the rappers like Jasiri X, David Banner and Dee1. These guys are beyond remarkable lyricists. Their dedication to the ‘hood is unparalleled.
Truly, we really pushed this election and it wasn’t easy. Along with a majority of multicultural groups and the population across the states – we helped to secure Barack Obama’s position in the White House. We used the internet, but we were also in people’s faces, whether it was 5 or 5,000. We’ve seen this “moment” come and go so many times – from the Million Man March to the Vote or Die campaign. However, seizing the day was never quite significant as it is now, even more significant that Barack’s first election victory.
Honestly, Barack Obama faced insurmountable odds, but he did it again. And so can we! We’ve seen just about all of the social gains African Americans have made since the 1960s erased. We observe “our” entertainers beating on women without any real repercussion, and call it entertainment. We see folks with brown skin disproportionately influencing children and youth while seemingly responsible men stand on the sides looking weak. And we see, in many times, so-called men backing or contributing to this denigration. We can get it all back if we want it badly enough.
So last night, while the world zoomed in on their television sets, my daughter proclaimed “Barack Obama BETTER be president when I wake up!” It wasn’t a request – but a demand.
Demands should be posed to some Black men and its definitely time to wake up. Stop asking for handouts. The time for asking and requesting for help is over. OVER! The time for sitting on the sidelines is over. This is why I am so proud of the work we did this year. Once again, we helped re-elect President Obama, but we also helped to inspire and educate. We were people of all walks of life working together. One person in particular, said my endorsement made him support Obama even though I know he wasn’t fully convinced. It’s not about a vote though. It’s about pushing each other and our elected officials to serve our interests, move with force and get things right.
And, it doesn’t all fall on Black men, but we’re a huge sleeping beast.
So in summary, Obama won. In fact he swept the Electoral and popular votes confidently.
I’ve never been so proud of America. Well, I’ve never been so proud of America since the last time America elected Barack Obama.
But, guess what?
The election is over and the work begins. This victory is sweet, but the ultimate victory has yet to be realized. Regardless of who was the president, this message would remain the same. No longer is it acceptable to vote then disappear for four years as if somebody else is going to fix your problems. You have to be a stand up citizen and fix yourself. Fix your families. Fix your communities.
Or, get out.
Some Action Items:
Join a support group in the community, church or even an online organization. There are others like 100 Black Men and similar ones that act locally. Furthermore, I’ve joined online groups like RealDadsNetwork.org. Jump in and surround yourself with people moving forward and upward.
Mentor a kid. If you have children, show them what you are doing to better your conditions. I took my daughter with me to vote just so she could cast the ballot. It embeds in her that its her responsibility to be active as a citizen. The effort will return to help everybody.
Avoid debt, save money. Our culture focuses way too heavily on materialism and reckless spending. I can see some idiot screaming “Yolo” as he spends his last couple hundred on Jordans. I know money is tight, but set aside an unchanging percentage of your income (generally 10%) and don’t touch it.
Invest in business that invests in you. During one of my more eventful visits to the White House, Obama and the crew laid out all of these companies that either hire or mentor minority youth. Find and support them. Furthermore, if you can tap into those resources, you can likely get your child or somebody else’s kid a job or, even better, skills.
Care. Its simple, but effective. The act of caring tends to make all other action items fall into place.
Chuck “Jigsaw” Creekmur is a father, son and the co-founder of AllHipHop.com. He’s a cultural critic, pundit and trailblazer that has been featured on National Public Radio (NPR), BET, TVOne, VH1, The E! Channel, MTV, The O’Reilly Factor, USA Today, The New York Times, New York’s Hot 97 FM and like a zillion other outlets