What a Black President Means to "Racism" | NBC New York

What a Black President Means to "Racism"



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    Barack Obama speaks to attendees at the 99th annual convention of the NAACP in 2008. Traditional black organizations like the NAACP have to use opportunity of a black president to be about more than "image."

    Considering "president of the United States" is without a doubt one of the hardest jobs in the world, everyone knows the heavy load that Barack Obama is preparing to take onto his shoulders.

    The fact that he is the first black man (however that word and phrase is defined) to be taking this job adds ever slightly a bit more scrutiny that will be expected.
    The question: Is the black community prepared to recognize its own new level of responsibility that the "First Brotha in the White House" will undoubtedly create?
    In short, fairly or unfairly, African Americans as a group will be seen in a different light now. Already, there is an undercurrent within the media that, "Obama's elected; racism as a problem for blacks is over!"  While that's not an accurate reality, there is a kernel of truth to it. To the extent that racism exists -- and traditional black organizations feel the need to address it -- it had better be real egregious cases.
    For example, the Alabama NAACP's crying over the inclusion of the traditional state "Azalea Trail Maids" doesn't quite cut it

    The head of the Alabama NAACP, however, wants Mobile's Azalea Trail Maids to stay home on Inauguration Day, claiming the group reminds him of slavery.

    "These are not just regular costumes.  These are the costumes that remind someone of the plantation in Gone with the Wind," Edward Vaughn said in a phone interview.

    Yes, Mr. Vaughn, the plantation in Gone With The Wind.  And, exactly what will the people be reminded of when the Trail Maids march by the presidential review booth on Inauguration Day? As they pass by a black president?
    Even if the Trail Maids are evocative of some forgotten Southern past -- and this black man (yes, I am black -- no joke) isn't even willing to grant Vaughn that -- the reality of a President Barack Obama is a much greater repudiation of that alleged misty-eyed memory than any whining that the Alabama NAACP might raise. 
    There's an old saying that's appropriate here: "Living well is the best revenge."  As president of the United States, Barack Obama is about ready to be living well -- and living large. The Trail Maids grow more antiquated every day Obama lives in the White House. 
    On the other hand, things like black poverty, illiteracy, unwed pregnancies, shrinking black women -- and other ills bedeviling the community still linger. The Trail Maids have nothing to do with them. A President Obama can only do so much to address them. Contrarily, state-level organizations -- such as the Alabama NAACP -- just like their parent group might want to use the existence of a black president as an inspirational focus to battle those social ills. 
    The goal being to ensure that Barack Obama isn't just a "one and done" black president, but the first of many.   
    Robert A. George blogs at Ragged Thots and dabbles in stand-up comedy.