Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Savoir-Faire


The election of the first African American president in the United States has triggered a backlash of more than 200 related hate crimes, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. In inner-cities and among other marginalized youth however, the Obama victory appears to have sparked an interest in urbanity and civility, according to my own unscientific but sagacious observations.

The meaning of Barack Obama's election, to many African American youth, has revised their definition of manhood from gangsta' to professional, from dumb and don't care to intelligent and passionate, and from falling down pants to well fitting business suits or other more refined attire. Obama's overcoming has also added or is adding hard work, intelligence, dignity, family, and anti-sexism, racism, or classism to the definition of black masculinity and desirability.

What was it in Obama's method, that has been successful in changing the behavior and values of our youth, where our past leadership and parenting efforts have been fruitless? I attribute it to the following:

1. He was blunt and direct in articulating past and present failures rather than becoming an enabler or co-dependent by making excuses for dysfunctional behavior or covering for or minimizing embarassing failures.

2. Yet, he did not allow articulation of failure to become a permanent mantra which would have destroyed the future of our youth, relegating them to a prison of hopelessness so that their lives would have become a self-fulfilling prophecy of the put-downs.

3. Obama exposed his own obstacles and humble life experiences to allow his victory to trumpet the message that "the future ain't like it's always been" and no longer do we have to continue hurting ourselves by internalizing the pain of rejection.

4. Believed in us. The President-elect assumed that concealed somewhere in our tattered existence, was something glorious and very noble and made his appeal to the dignity and the best within us. Obama's certainty that we are still great human beings, more than anything else, separated him from the other candidate, draws the best from within us, and makes the difference in changing our attitudes and behaviors because it restores the hope that unlimited possibilities are now attainable.


For we are saved by hope....
Romans 8:24

7 comments:

blackwomenblowthetrumpet.blogspot.com said...

Hi Pastor,

Thank you for this post! I didn't realize just how deeply Obama had impacted many young men. I am not sure he even realizes that yet.

Still, I want to understand why our black youth and black men are not inspired by the black men of God in their midst....why is it that these men have not shined brightly enough in the darkest corridors of the most depressed segments of society?

Are there no Obama-caliber men sitting in the pews on Sundays?

What will it take for our men to be the salt and the light?

I speak about my father quite often at my blog. During my childhood, my father was a widower who was responsible for parenting three children on his own - now a mathematician, a psychologist and a clergywoman.

I want to encourage black women to tell our father's stories because it seems that many do NOT understand that there IS a legacy of black fatherhood that has deeply impacted this present generation.

Peace, blessings and DUNAMIS!
Lisa

Revvy Rev said...

There certainly are men men of color representing of all walks of life that are present in the pews on Sunday. However, the average church attendance is 75% female and 25% male. Dr. Jawanza Kunjufu's book Adam, Where Are You: Why Most Black Men Don't Go to Church explores this in detail.

But the African American male has been conspicuously absent in a variety of positive situations and overrepresented in negative areas, explained by a variety of complex factors.

jjbrock said...

Thanks for a great post.

teamowens313 said...

Rev,

This is a very, very powerful post. I think over time it will become even more apparent how his election has transformed our self-perceptions. Particularly among the young.
Thanks much for this.

--"D" Spot

Revvy Rev said...

@teamowens - I agree. It will take time, but everything worthwhile and lasting does take time. Thanks, man.

@jjbrock - my prayers are with you. If I can be of help, don't hesitate to let me know. God Bless.

pjazzypar said...

I actually grew up without a father, but I had several friends who had strong, incomparable, African American fathers who parented not only their children, but took responsibility for inspiring children that were not their own. There are plenty of good, solid father figures out there who are under appreciated.

Revvy Rev said...

Pjazzy,

That is what it takes. My father died suddenly just as I turned 14. The men at church acted as father figures to fill the vacuum. Otherwise the gangs or other negative influences will occupy the void.