Just Another Blog Entry About Our First Black President

This is a remarkable evening. I believe we are in the beginning of a new era as Americans. I’ve cried several times over-joyed by this historic moment. Fifty years ago this was unthinkable, parts of America denied Blacks the right to vote. Forty years ago, this was still unthinkable as America’s cities exploded in riots following the death of Martin Luther King Jr. Thirty years ago, this was unthinkable, as most Black Americans were still grappling with the legacies of Jim Crow and the disproportional effects of the deindustrialization of our inner cities. Twenty years ago, the idea of a Black man in the White house was a joke. It was a cruel joke about the pervasiveness of social inequality and racial prejudice in American society. Even when this campaign started, I thought it was a long shot. I was overseas when Barack Obama secured the nomination for the Democratic Party.

Obama’s victory is not just for the Black community, but all Americans. And it is clear that Americans from all walks of life believed in what he represented. But I wanted to focus on what he means for the Black community. I wanted to put his victory in the context of struggles my ancestors and the injustices experienced. I’m thinking about how Frederick Douglass, Sojourney Truth, George Washington Carvery, Booker T. Washington, W.E.B. DuBois, Clayton Powell, James Baldwin, Langston Hughes, Thurgood Marshall, Ida B. Wells, Martin Luther King, and so many other unnamed great Black thinkers and pioneers would feel about this moment. Without doubt, they would be overjoyed. This night would have likely seemed like a fantasy for them. I voted for Obama because he represents that legacy. I voted for him because I believed that he was the most capable of making the necessary changes within the political field. Don’t get me wrong, I do not think he is the messiah Nor do I think that the institutionalized racism that has been embedded in American society for so long will be erased due to his presidency. But rather, his presidency represents hope that we can overcome those boundaries.

We face many challenges to ensure that America makes good on her promises. Americans of all races, genders, orientations, faiths, and ages have been inspired. I believe the Black national anthem is true for all of us. If I could sing, I’d sing it celebrating the this victorious moment by singing the Black National Anthem.

Lift every voice and sing, till earth and Heaven ring,
Ring with the harmonies of liberty;
Let our rejoicing rise, high as the listening skies,
Let it resound loud as the rolling sea.
Sing a song full of the faith that the dark past has taught us,
Sing a song full of the hope that the present has brought us;
Facing the rising sun of our new day begun,
Let us march on till victory is won.

Stony the road we trod, bitter the chastening rod,
Felt in the days when hope unborn had died;
Yet with a steady beat, have not our weary feet,
Come to the place for which our fathers sighed?
We have come over a way that with tears has been watered,
We have come, treading our path through the blood of the slaughtered;
Out from the gloomy past, till now we stand at last
Where the white gleam of our bright star is cast.

God of our weary years, God of our silent tears,
Thou who hast brought us thus far on the way;
Thou who hast by Thy might, led us into the light,
Keep us forever in the path, we pray.
Lest our feet stray from the places, our God, where we met Thee.
Lest our hearts, drunk with the wine of the world, we forget Thee.
Shadowed beneath Thy hand, may we forever stand,
True to our God, true to our native land.

And still we rise…

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20 thoughts on “Just Another Blog Entry About Our First Black President

  1. As Salaamu Alaikum:

    I cried so much even though I thought I wouldn’t. I agree with you wholeheartedly about how tremendous this is. Not from a political stand point but a historical one. Words cannot express how much hope we should now have most importantly as Muslims of African decent living in this country or even for the ones of us who are not. We still connect our history here in America so this should mean a lot to us on many levels.

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  2. Adam Clayton Powell..get it right 🙂 and do you mean senior or junior? 🙂 I went to A.C Powell Jr. School in Chicago. WE have a Harold Washington school too, so I expect new Obama schools opening around the streets of America soon, insha’Allah!

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  3. Obama’s victory is not just for the Black community, but all Americans.

    Yes – this little part is what I hope that Americans begin to see and understand: Blackamerican victories are American victories.

    Allah guide him, us and blessings on the Messenger,

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  4. I hadn’t expected it to be this emotional, perhaps I was still being over-cautious and preparing myself for a possible disappointment.

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  5. I’m not sure how easy it would be to classify Anwar Sadat as black. He lives in a part of the world where the Arab to black is a transition, and not necessarily one or the other.

    As for any other country in the world electing a black president, I’m sure there are plenty in Africa, but Nelson Mandela is a fairly obvious one that comes to mind.

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  6. Gary: Most African nations have elected black leaders obviously, but if the question is has any white-majority nation ever elected a non-white leader (and a leader from a long-oppressed class of people to boot) before then the answer would be:

    President-elect Barack Obama is the first.

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  7. K-dude,
    You’d be surprised about the racial discourse and boundaries in “that part of the world.” Mind you, I’ve visited that part of the world and have experienced first hand how people get classified in racial hierarchies. I was being a bit facetious, but the fact is that Anwar Sadat’ss mother was Sudanese. He was a dark guy and a number of Egyptians noted that as soon as he got into power, he married the whitest Egyptian woman he could find. Egyptians do make distinctions between those they consider white, those they consider dark, and those they consider Black. Nubians experience racism, as do Sudanese immigrants, but perhaps because he was in the center of power and his mixed identity downplayed his African origins. If he would have just been some regular guy, I’m sure they would have called him Aswad or joked about him looking Aswani or Sa’idi.

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  8. Indeed it’s bittersweet… My grandfather was an entrepeneur, owning real estate and a photography business, a Tuskegee airmen, dad to two sets of twins.. and he never let anyone hold him down. He missed seeing this amazing event by two years.

    But am I ever glad that my children have someone other than those in the entertainment industry to look up to! Alhamdulillah! We haven’t had a “black leader” in quite some time!

    In one persons lifetime we’ve come from slavery, to Jim Crow, to “genocide” by drugs.. Allah truly hears the prayers of the oppressed.

    Others have said, Rosa sat so Martin could march. Martin marched so Obama could run. Obama ran so we all could fly.

    Let’s hope we don’t forget that it’s going to take MORE than 4 years to fix the mess we’re in, so voters won’t get antsy come next election.

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  9. I’ve heard some of the stories. I was aware that his mother was Sudanese, but wasn’t sure if that meant black Sudanese or Arab Sudanese, I guess they do make the distinction.

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  10. K-dude,

    You mean Arab Sudanese like this:

    That’s Omar Bashir the president.
    There are a few lighter skinned ones representing more recent migrations to the region, are often considered Black in Egypt. Southern Sudanese are just outside the fold and are really treated bad. But It is clear that Sadat got a major infusion of melanine and it is likely from his Sudanese mother. That is, unless his father was Aswani or Nubian, but nothing in his biography indicates that.

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  11. Salam aleykum sister Margarie,
    Truly I too was happy with the presidential election as it did break some barriers here in American politics. But, as being caucasian I do not think I can fully understand the significance of this event, not as much as my darker brothers and sisters.
    That said I would also like to point out that we are muslims and we have examples in our history of freed black slaves being so highly elevated in Islam. Bilal is so dear to us, his sweet voice was given the honour of calling to prayer. This is what I am proud of. These are the morals of muslims. There is no rasicsm in Islam.
    Why would I care for how people without these morals perceive anything in this world. Its not like they are 100% right about anything else.

    On another note personally, as a shia I believe that there is always a guide of Allah on earth, a mercy from Him, our Imam. He is the one that deserves and is appointed from God to rule the earth.(wishfull thinking) And the Messiah that will return in his aid. Im not saying that obama lacks the good intention and i hope he does a good job. But politics is hard and no one knows what the best solution is all the time. Wisdom from the Almighty God is given to the one HE chooses. I guess we can pray for God to guide him and hope for the best.

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