The 20-year-old single "Don't Believe the Hype" by hip-hop icons Public Enemy has been a constant thought of mine in days up and through the inauguration of Barack Obama as the 44th president of the United States. The seminal political rap tune instructs black Americans, and others, to look beyond contrived media stereotypes to explore the complexities of black males and the negotiation of social and political spaces.
Having this lyrical tome — however dated — as a backdrop in considering the celebration of so many blacks on the election of President Obama can be helpful.
In cutting to the quick of Obama, there is an appreciation of him as articulate (I hated that reference to me by condescending teachers in school), self-disclosing and a brilliant, disciplined political mind. His list of personal and professional positives represents much of the best in the black community. And to see him appreciated so grandly gives us, and obviously many others, a sense of hope that we can be seen beyond the boxes that so often separate us from being seen as whole.
This is not to say that Mr. President is all-the-way on point. He is a politician. One who has manipulated circumstance, situation and stakeholders in ways that politicians do, and that's OK as long as there is an understanding of it all.
Just before the election of Mr. Obama to the presidency I opined that I'd sipped the Kool-Aid. I explained that I was a true believer, but only halfway. As with many who experience marginalization in this country, I believe in the ideal of American democracy — I dare say many black folk do. However that ideal has not been, nor is it now bound in one individual, no matter how cool and competent.
So, with President Obama there is true belief. His social standing and thoroughness gives us an opportunity to bet on black. He has allowed Us to step forward in this pivotal point in history.
Nonetheless, 'politics' is still 'politricks,' and we'd be wise to consider the words of Chuck D.