Pop Culture, Race & Politics

The Afterparty: Obama’s America One Year Later

change01It’s been a year and some days since most of us witnessed a day we never thought would come, at least not in our lifetimes.  That night and the subsequent weeks leading up to inauguration felt great.  There was a certain quiet (or in some people’s cases, not so quiet) pride that most of us in the Black community walked around with.  Whether you agreed with him, voted for him, or even liked the man, his seemingly comet-like ascendance into the Oval Office was something every Black person could look to as a source of inspiration and pride.

I remember right after the election, there was this certain knowing amongst a great number of people that the election of Obama meant more than just the rise of one particular Black man.  It was bigger than just him.  Obama’s win, and the following spotlight placed upon him, his life, and his family was going to signal to the Black community and Black men in particular that there was hope and create a new way of thinking.  With Obama in office and doing the unthinkable, we couldn’t use the same old tired excuses and in fact, we should all want to do better.  As Black men, our time to shine was now.  Go forth and make a difference and be the change you want to be.  Don’t just talk about it, be about it.  If Obama can, you can too.

He’s every man and every man was/is Obama.

It’s one year later. 

CNN ran a story last week entitled, “Is Obama inspiring Black men to step up?”, where they talked to numerous Black men to get their take on what they’ve done (or not done) since Obama took to the national stage.  Like I said, the day Obama won, it seemed like everybody was ready to hit the streets with dreams and inspiration and kick the truth to pretty much anybody that wanted to hear it.  And it seems like he has.  On paper anyway.

Seems to me that some of that energy and excitement from Obama has worn off – not even some, most of it.  He’s just the President now and people pretty much look to him as such.  Of course, people still buy Obama memorabilia but what about the dreams that he inspired and the motivation.  What about the change in the Black family dynamic away from the alleged mother-headed household to the Huxtable model.  Hell, blogs referencing the Huxtables blew up after the election.  Everybody wanted that life…that Obama life.

But perhaps I’m shortsighted.  Truly, I wonder if we’ll see the effects of Obama’s presidency in the near term anyway.  Real change takes years.  Major state colleges were only integrated 50 years ago and we still have de facto school segregation in places.  Same with housing, services, etc.  But the seeds of change should be planted.  Maybe some of us are kind of too old to change and the real change will come from the younger people who have so much promise in their eyes and have been influenced by the way everybody felt by Obama’s win.

I have no clue.

So I wonder, good people of VSB, have you witnessed any change since Obama was elected?  Is the Black community any different than it was a year ago?  If so, how?  Or is it too early to even be able to tell?  Is the economy in too much of  stalemate for real change to even be realized at this point?

Basically, where are we now, one year later?

The floor is yours.

-VSB P aka THE ARSONIST aka TANGLE JIG P aka GIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIRL, HE A 3

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Damon Young

Panama Jackson is pretty fly for a light guy. He used to ship his frito to Tito in the District, but shipping prices increased so he moved there to save money. When he's not saving humanity with his words or making music with his mouth, you can find him at your mama's mama's house drinking her fine liquors. Most importantly, he believes the children are our future.

  • AO

    don’t know if i’m worthy of first, but heah it go–i’ve seen a lot more in -your-face racism and typical bs. case in point the justice of the peace who refused to marry an interracial couple. smh there have been other incidents, but i think that euro-americans are at a point where they think that since we have an african american president, eveything else should be swept away…..nah, i think not!
    as far as where we are…by nature americans are fickle and have a short attention span, so we are not far from where we started, sadly, but we better get it in gear, the gangstas are rallying for 2012.

    • http://ThinkPrettySmart.typepad.com Ms. Smart

      @AO, I think racism that has been happening is getting more light shined on it now. Like, I don’t the JOP was caught the first time. I think he’s been doing that for a minute. But now, with a Black man in the office, people have puffier chests to call a racist a racist.

      Now, if we could just get this health care plan taken care of. Down with denying my otherwise healthy behind for one minor pre-existing condition. The shyt ain’t even life threatening!!!

    • http://verysmartbrothas.com Panama Jackson

      @AO, the short attention span has been the one major downside of Obamas election. there was such a euphoric high on election night it seemed like everybody was just damn happy.

      but even by inauguration, some of that seemed to have died down. it’s hard to stay on top of the world without hookers and heroin for an extended period of time.

      • AO

        @Panama Jackson,
        i co-sign that, for me, it was an even greater event because of the fact that i was overseas when it was announced that he won the election. and the congratulations i received on his behalf from my colleagues around the World was more than was even felt here at home. there’s still much work to be done.

  • The One & True GEM… of the Ocean

    im too stunned that this post was mostly coherent and free of random sidenotes and birdwalks to even focus on the posed questions. Peej, whats happening to you, man??? im not used to this you. youre so…. normal sounding. *smh*

    ill be back to answer the question later.

    • http://stickwithyocat.blogspot.com/ V.E.G.

      @The One & True GEM… of the Ocean,

      co-sign.

    • http://verysmartbrothas.com Panama Jackson

      @The One & True GEM… of the Ocean, man, you all act like every post i write mentions squirrels, 4-finger rings, the lumberjack (with the hate to match) and some smoke stacks.

      coherence throws off your whole circumference? pun intended.

      • http://www.sistersoundoff.blogspot.com Cheekie

        @Panama Jackson,

        “you all act like every post i write mentions squirrels, 4-finger rings, the lumberjack (with the hate to match) and some smoke stacks.”

        Knowing you, I bet at least one of those is a VSB tag. lol

  • cam1ll3

    i was just saying today how the whole concept of the new black president just doesn’t get old for me. seeing a face that looks like mine and having someone to come from a family similar to mine…very awesome, i have to say.
    i have heard some slight dessention every so often: “i thought he was gonna fix…” “man he needta stand up and…” “i ain’t seent no changes, maaaaan!” to all of which i reply, “he just got there. he’s got 8 years of bull crap to scoop up. it stinks in there. let that man gather his bearings. this is new for us to see and definetely new for him to do.”
    i have faith. pres. clinton didn’t clean everything up in a year (and he’s my favorite president to date–it was during his two terms that my mom went from three jobs to one and was still able to maintain our house. she cried alot less too.) and pres. obama won’t either (lawd knows if he does…jeebus jeebus jeebus…there’ll be dancing in streets, manna falling from heaven, dogs and cats living together…). i do know that pres. obama is intelligent enough to get the job done (in comparison with what we’ve been dealing with for the last 8 years? odie the dog would be more intelligent. i can see odie signing off on the healthcare option now…ink smeared cuz of all the drool…)

    • http://ThinkPrettySmart.typepad.com Ms. Smart

      @cam1ll3, Damn! Just today I found myself watching him on CNN and thinking ALOUD, “Damn. That’s a Black man!!”

      • cam1ll3

        @Ms. Smart,
        meee too!! like damn-he’s handsome, intelligent (i could listen to that man speak until he was hoarse and i wouldn’t give a crap), dignified, diplomatic and he is runnin this mickey-flick!!! YEAAAH!!! YEAAAAHH!! and then i realized i was at work and my supervisors were kinda eyein’ me.
        but i definetely feel you. “ain’t it cool?!”

    • miss t-lee

      @cam1ll3,
      “i was just saying today how the whole concept of the new black president just doesn’t get old for me”

      I don’t think it will ever get old for me either. Everytime I see him stroll up to that podium I get happy all over again!

      • Smiley Face

        @miss t-lee,

        and stroll he does!!!

        • miss t-lee

          @Smiley Face,
          Don’t he? He’s definitely got a cool walk…lol

          • http://www.sistersoundoff.blogspot.com Cheekie

            @miss t-lee,

            Truth!

            That walk should have its own theme song.

          • miss t-lee

            @ Cheekie,
            You’re right girlie…”Hail to the Chief” doesn’t do that walk proper justice.

    • http://verysmartbrothas.com Panama Jackson

      @cam1ll3, unrelated to your post but related at the same time, i think we gave billy clinton WAY to much credit in the black community for really doing anything for black folks. sure some things got better while he was in office FOR THE NATION but all he really did was show up with a sax on arsenio. other than that, he ain’t really do much for black folks.

      • Me fail english?

        @Panama Jackson,

        Are you tryna say workfare and devolvement from African relations(cf. Rwanda, Somalia) werent the black people’s savior that he told us they were??? *dripping in sarcasm*

      • cam1ll3

        @Panama Jackson,

        he played the sax, went on arsenio, ate big macs and he was a whore. i’ll give you that. alllll iiiii knooooow iiiiiiis the money that was floatin in my house was a wee bit more abundant. and that is a-ok with me. those were glorious times…

    • Xave

      @cam1ll3,

      I completely agree with your sentiments. we must remember that the President does not and cannot unilaterally change policy but he only can shape the policy agenda. His ability to shape the policy agenda in and of it self has been successful. I mean, we are talking about a major reform of the American healthcare system among other things. Don’t get me wrong, upon his victory over a year ago I was cautiously enthusiastic about the future since obama is like Michael Jordan playing for the Washington Generals—the Democrats! However, in this day and age of cynicism and skepticism, one must be skeptical of skepticism. Transformative change is inevitable.

  • http://ThinkPrettySmart.typepad.com Ms. Smart

    He was only the President Elect this time last year. His real year will be on January 20-21. Having said all that, I think it’s to early to tell him impact on the overall Black community. Howevuh, I don’t think there has been a change in our community as far as Black men are concerned. Black men haven’t had an immediate ‘step up and come to Jesus moment’. Slackers are going to be slackers–no matter who is in office. But Black women have added President Obama to their list of ideal Black men…The unattainable man that they wish for but accept only exists on TV…or in the White House. Maybe, just maybe, chicks will stop wishing for some strange urban and suburban hybrid man and be happy with a nice, tall, lanky nerd!

    • http://stickwithyocat.blogspot.com/ V.E.G.

      @Ms. Smart,

      I don’t think Obama being in office has changed the dating/mating/marriage aspirations of sistas all that much.

      There is lack of dating/mating/marriage options for black women – high incarceration rates of our men, early deaths of too many of our young men and (hopefully) having to eliminate those who are gay and/or married.

      If Obama being President HAS done anything, I think it’s made it HARDER for black women, ensuring many more will be single for life. Sistas now want the Obama type: the tall, lanky nerd, if you will. And while those guys are out there, they are not as common as Tremayne, the hard working mechanic who also happens to be a decent, honest and kind guy.

      Don’t get me wrong: I understand wanting to date within your station. But I think a lot of black women pick, pick, pick over their options until they have picked themselves out of the game.

      • http://www.museacdonline.com pgh muse

        @V.E.G., they are not as common as Tremayne, the hard working mechanic who also happens to be a decent, honest and kind guy.
        Don’t get me wrong: I understand wanting to date within your station. But I think a lot of black women pick, pick, pick over their options until they have picked themselves out of the game.

        I agree with this whole statement. The downside to dating Tremayne the hardworking mechanic though (not saying this will happen with EVERY Tremayne) is that he will have MAN issues… you’re ambitious and he’ll feel emasculated. You use a word that he doesn’t know (instead of looking it UP smart guy) he’ll feel emasculated, you want to go to dinner somewhere that serves something other than chicken… he’ll feel emasculated. Not saying that Tremayne and a sista with a grad degree can’t work out… if he’s a good man he’ll see the light. But it ain’t gone be all roses.

        • http://ThinkPrettySmart.typepad.com Ms. Smart

          @pgh muse, But can’t Tre be a good guy and just not be interested in the things you listed? Why is it that we assume that everyone should want to do those things. Lots of people are perfectly happy doing what they’ve been doing (eating chicken, using common words, having a job as opposed to a career, etc.). If that’s the case, shouldn’t he find someone he has more in common with??

          • http://www.museacdonline.com pgh muse

            @Ms. Smart, girl. Maybe. But aren’t relationships sometimes about compromise?

          • Me fail english?

            @Ms. Smart,

            She didn’t assume he should want to eat less chicken. She said him feeling emasculated or ‘less than’ you because you want veal sometimes will become an issue.

            @pgh,
            Girl go head and preach because I can attest first hand that this can be a VERY real issue with Tremayne.

        • Smiley Face

          @pgh muse, ‘But I think a lot of black women pick, pick, pick over their options until they have picked themselves out of the game.”

          I totally agree with this because despite what “statistics” say about the “overwhelming” number of black men being incarcerated, gay or whatever, I’ve never had a problem dating successful black men, not all of the have been white collar execs either. I keep my head to the sky but I also make sure I’m looking around so I don’t trip and fall flat on my face. Nothing is wrong with having standards but like you said you keep pick, pick, picking, you’ll pick yourself right on out.

        • http://ThinkPrettySmart.typepad.com Ms. Smart

          @pgh muse, “But I think a lot of black women pick, pick, pick over their options until they have picked themselves out of the game.”

          And I think a lot of men pick, pick, pick but nobody tells them to lower their standards. It’s socially acceptable for them to have standards, particularly physical standards. Nobody says, “Bro, I know you want Halle Berry but that chick who looks like Whoopi Goldberg would also make a great wife and mother. You should date and marry her.”

          Also, when I hear the stats, I thank my lucky stars I live in the DC ‘urea’. I have never had trouble meeting men, being in committed relationships–even if those relationships didn’t lead to marriage. If anything, I’ve probably been guilty of being greedy–not to be confused with being whorish (LOL).

          • Me fail english?

            @Ms. Smart,

            I hear what you’re saying but men dont have to lower their standards because they dont complain as much about being alone. In fact, I’d say men are generally more willing to settle/compromise than women. They may not downgrade to Whoopi but if they go long enough without Halle they’ll bag an Essence.

          • http://ThinkPrettySmart.typepad.com Ms. Smart

            @Ms. Smart, See, I find men complaining all the time. They might be with someone but they’ve settled…So they complain. They might have numerous options but complain because they can’t find Halle or because once they do find her, they lose out to one of the other million brothers who also want her.

        • Sanen85

          @pgh muse, @V.E.G. You sure you two aren’t from Seattle? I’ve been having a back and forth with this ninja for a couple years now. You have described him perfectly, down to his name. The only difference is his job title. He is very much the stereotypical man’s man and feels emasculated at the littlest things. Aaargh, you just got me frustrated all over again thinking about his MAN issues.

          I hope he isn’t lurking today, I knew I shouldn’t have sent him a link to this site.

      • http://ThinkPrettySmart.typepad.com Ms. Smart

        @V.E.G., The point I was making is that Black women just have another name to add to their list of men they’d like to be with.

        As for dating in or out of your station, why come people (not you per se) assume Tremayne is a good guy by default?? Are all blue collar guys good but just looking for an upwardly mobile woman?? If Tre (he and I are on familiar terms so I can shorten his name) is SUCH a good guy, why hasn’t the local administrative assistant snapped him up?? Cus Tre and his cohorts are just as unwilling to commit, be HOH, etc, as Brent the three degree having, multiple property owning, tall dude under 40.

        • http://www.museacdonline.com pgh muse

          @Ms. Smart, This is true too.

        • Caballeroso

          @Ms. Smart,

          Why everybody gotta be tall?

        • Caballeroso

          @Sula, thanks for keeping hope alive! :)

          @Ms. Smart, Thanks for providing the article as it provides additional insight on people’s thoughts in that regard.

          The article’s focus is on the greater earning potential of those who are taller and indicates that taller guys make more money. Use of this article as explanation of why women opt for taller guys seemingly reinforces the stereotypes that paint women as golddiggers.

          I’m sure there’s more to it than the financial aspects. Afterall, Tre’, the hardworking, blue collar, presumeably “tall”, brother cited up-thread could easily end up reporting to the 5’8″ or shorter brother who graduated B-school and sets Tre’s wages. Yet, in a line up, Tre’ would get chosen based on height.

          Assuming it’s a projection of being authoritative or confident as the article alludes to, it overlooks those shorter guys with the Napolean Complexes.

          The article touches on the perception of safety, which again is “short”-sighted as it ignores the scrappy little, gun-toting brothas with a black belt in Shotokan.

          It seems that, extrapolating from use of this article as justification for dating taller guys, it would be logical for brothas to shun black women in favor of 2520′s who tend to have an advantage over sista’s for obtaining employment thereby having a greater earning potential- or perhaps for ostrasizing pleasantly plump sistas in favor of someone less predisposed to heart disease and diabetes.

          I find that difficult to accept; there’s gotta be more to it, but again, I appreciate your offering of that explanation.

          • http://ThinkPrettySmart.typepad.com Ms. Smart

            @Caballeroso, Here’s another one that cites some evolutionary things.

            http://www.innovations-report.com/html/reports/social_sciences/report-11976.html

            I’m short. I prefer taller men because I don’t want short sons. I don’t want my sons to be like the short dudes I have encountered. Tall men, based on MY experience, seem to have a confidence short men only fake.

      • http://verysmartbrothas.com Panama Jackson

        @V.E.G., i was specifically interested in the family dynamic considering how here on VSB shortly after the election, The Champ wrote a post about obama’s (and the family’s) effect on relationships and so many folks thought he’d have such an impact and i think that remains to be seen…and probably will never been seen.

  • http://stickwithyocat.blogspot.com/ V.E.G.

    I think you hit the nail on the head, PJ with this very straight forward, written like a normal person post.

    “Real change takes time”.

    This is true, for both the black community and the country as a whole.

    The current generation doesn’t often reap the benefits of a ‘history making’ moment. We won’t know if Obama being President has made a difference in the black world until our young children start to come of age and make choices. We really didn’t think folks were going to stop the violence because a black man was POTUS, did we?

    As others said, it takes a while in the policy world to make change, too. Dude hasn’t been in the job a full year, had a hella ambitious plan and is trying to tackle it.

    Lastly – and most importantly – it takes more than one person to make a difference, locally and nationally. We all have to pitch in, even if it’s writing/calling our elected officials to support legislation we think is important or organizing against fools to get them ousted from office.

    • Me fail english?

      @V.E.G.,

      Inspiring. I feel the wisdom coming from this post :)

    • http://www.sistersoundoff.blogspot.com Cheekie

      @V.E.G.,

      (bold, my own)

      “I think you hit the nail on the head, PJ with this very straight forward, written like a normal person post.”

      Unlike Champ’s posts…

      O___O

    • http://verysmartbrothas.com Panama Jackson

      @V.E.G., I think you hit the nail on the head, PJ with this very straight forward, written like a normal person post.

      man…you’d think i generally write like i have 4 arms and 12 baby mommas with 2 children.

  • Leila

    I agree with the others that change will take time, but personally the effect has not worn off. I volunteer in the community and I see the impact that Obama has especially on young black males. They look up to him and some have really stepped up in the community. It will take time to see the full effect, but the seeds are definitely planted.

    • Me fail english?

      @Leila,

      I agree. A lot of the kids I work with are actually tryna sound smart. Like using “big words” and stuff. They also seem to have much more diverse ambitions than the kids I taught years ago. Fr’instance, the kids with the boldest ambitions used to all want to become entrepreneurs. Maybe run a nightclub, record label, restaurant, auto body shop etc. I suspect this was partially because they had trouble envisioning a black/latino male ascending the ranks of a large corporation and being a boss there so they aimed to do it outside the establishment. While I was proud of them for that, I’m also happy to see that they’re less limited and think its well within their reach to go corporate or smthg.

      I honestly haven’t noticed a huge difference in my generation or older but I mostly just observe my fam and friends. Selection bias?

    • http://verysmartbrothas.com Panama Jackson

      @Leila, that’s actually really where i believe it will all come from. the children growing up on some, “i want to be president. you be the rapper, today, dereon.” when they play rappers, record execs, athletes and presidents.

      cowboys and indians is so passé.

      now that’s change i want to see.

      • Sula

        @Panama Jackson,

        cowboys and indians is so passé.

        LMAO.

  • Lili

    I missed yesterday’s post…but Panama. The U-Haul spot on Chillum road? Hate to say it, but you couldn’t possibly expect good service round them parts! Negros are a trip over there…lol

    On to the topic…where are we one year later?

    371 days removed.

    • http://stickwithyocat.blogspot.com/ V.E.G.

      @Lili,

      371 days removed.

      :)

      • Lili

        @V.E.G.,

        lol

    • http://verysmartbrothas.com Panama Jackson

      @Lili, that used to be my neighborhood. NE Extended. LOL. Cypress Creek fo lyfe.

      i actually started two crip gangs over there just cuz i could.

      • Lili

        @Panama Jackson,

        “i actually started two crip gangs over there just cuz i could.”

        Boy hush. lol I hear you though. I’m based in Silver Spring. I had a friend who lived around there; it seemed cool when the crew would chill over there, but he always had stories…lol Plus we’d ride through there to get to club from time.

        I…I think I recall seeing a crew decked in blue on the corner one night. Maybe that was you….?

  • Shay

    I don’t know…

    From the outside looking in, things certainly look different to me. I’d venture that the overwhelming optimism of Obama has long since subsided, as I’ve heard rumblings about the economy and I am waiting patiently, but I’m not sure if the economic turmoil we’re facing is more of a social and economic restructuring that has sorely been needed in the US for a while rather then the aftermath of the collapse of the housing bubble (and if that is the case, that would be a wonderful thing for furthering the black middle class.) I am a patient man, and Obama is an intelligent one. We’ll see how things pan out.

    But I digress.

    I think President Obama has had an overwhelmingly positive, if subtle influence that shouldn’t be quickly dismissed. It’s evident in the comments above mine, the fact that black folks are amazed that they have a president that looks like them. It’s a good thing. The youth need that image of greatness that they can inspire to. The youth needs more exposure to black doctors, black lawyers, black entrepeneurs, and black researchers as it creates a subtle yet profound effect: it makes it ordinary, and by proxy, obtainable.

    I’ve noticed a slight, but distinct change in folks to simply do beddah. In the sense of “Obama did it, so can you.” Taken with a grain of salt of course, but that sentiment is out there, and floating around. To really solidify this effect, there needs to be large exposure of black professionals to reinforce this image to children.

    Of course, this could be heavily biased because of my observations come directly from my environment, and recently I picked up and decided to go to an HBCU to further my education, and it just might be the type of atmosphere that is pervasive at the Mecca. I don’t think that’s the case, though.

    • http://verysmartbrothas.com Panama Jackson

      @Shay, It’s evident in the comments above mine, the fact that black folks are amazed that they have a president that looks like them.

      that right there is where i think most of the analysis stops now. at least amongst the 25+ crowd anyway.

      i do wonder though, most of the jobs that or careers that our youth tend to aspire to come with an element of glamour and floss, where the presidents job seems like it sucks MAJOR. there doesnt seem to be any real teflon-ness to it so i wonder if as those youngsters get older if they’ll mantain that drive for that job.

      i do think we need more exposure to black scientists and educators, etc and that they need more of the spotlight. but at the same time, i wonder how exactly do you even put them in the spotlight. if kids, or grown folks ffor that matter, would read more you’d see all the great accomplishments blacks have made. but how do you make kids want to read about charles drew??

  • Da Iceman

    Obama represents hope, hope for our people, hope for America. It’s still too early, give him time. One year and he’s still here, unscathed mostly. We gotta be happy and proud of that. And it’s still an improvement over the predecessor :P

    • http://lmbao.org Dorian G.

      @Da Iceman,

      “Obama represents hope, hope for our people, hope for America. ”

      See what I mean? You light skin ain’t you?

  • CoCoDelite

    As stated above, change takes time. However, I do feel that we are headed in the right direction.

    The premise of Obama’s campaign was “Yes WE can!” So, what are WE doing as a people to help implement this change?

    It takes involvement from the Black community (and everyone else in America that voted for him) as a whole for change to really take place. One man can’t do it alone. Basically:

    Do your part or don’t complain!

    • http://verysmartbrothas.com Panama Jackson

      @CoCoDelite, your comment alludes to another point to me. for some odd reason, we keep waiting (in the black community) for somebody to inspire us to “do better” or become something. why we always looking for somebody else to motivate us to fix a community we all agree needs fixing?

      not that you said that. just something that your comment brought to my mind.