Sunday, November 09, 2008

"African Americans have just entered the no-excuses zone"

He leapt the tallest barrier. What does it mean for black America?
Sunday, November 9, 2008

African Americans have just entered the no-excuses zone.

We finally have one of our own in the White House. With Barack Obama's ascension to the highest office in the United States, most African Americans feel that we have arrived as fully equal citizens. But we need to recognize that with Obama's victory come challenges---and that many of those challenges will be put to the black community itself.

Obama isn't like the leaders who have traditionally spoken for black America. As president, he's unlikely to embrace the confrontational identity politics that have defined black activism for so long. He won't tolerate an African American brand of racism or a culture of violence. Nor is he likely to be patient with the long-standing narrative of victimhood that has defined black America to itself and to the mainstream for more than a century.

Obama is already constructing a new black political and cultural narrative---gathering together the best of the past, including the coalition politics that characterized the early civil rights movement and an image of strong black males that doesn't involve bling-bling or hip-hop misogyny. He has decried the low-hanging pants fashion so popular with young black men, blasted rapper Ludacris for offensive song lyrics and called on fathers to take responsibility for their families. Are African Americans ready to accept all this and respond positively? Are they ready for a truly post-racial America?

The rest of Ms. Barras's piece is here.

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