Thursday, December 18, 2008

Build Bridges, Not Walls

Kansas City's first black mayor, elected in 1991, Rev. Emanuel Cleaver II posted an article with the Washington Post. His opine was to curb further "walls" of race, and to help with the idea to "build bridges."

In all he's efforts to help aid in the curbing of race relations, using terms with the like of "brothers and sisters of hue," and "people of color." Certainly, in todays society one would "understand" that with the election of a "black" President, we as a nation could curb the idea of lingering race issues. However, the Rev. Emanuel Cleaver continually brings this issue to the forefront in this article.

As posted on WashingtonPost:

"I know something about what Obama faces. In 1991, I was elected Kansas City's first black mayor. I and more than 400 other African American mayors who served during the most diverse period in the political history of America's large cities experienced a similar, and understandable, unreasonableness from brothers and sisters who saw in our election an opportunity at last to get a slice of the American pie. Obama will fall short of fulfilling the considerable hopes and dreams of the minorities who supported him, just as we could not fulfill those of ours.

To be sure, he will do all he can. Just as the black mayors of the '90s appointed able blacks to positions that were previously beyond their reach, championed capital projects in often-ignored and ailing parts of their cities, and included minorities in municipal economic opportunities, President Obama will certainly be attentive to the unique needs of the nation's neglected. Clearly, the goal of the Obama administration will be to destroy, not supervise, any government impulse to favor one group of Americans over others.

But brothers and sisters of hue, we must be candid: Race relations in America are far from sublime. Despite Obama's election, there are still Americans who, like the ole Missouri mule, are awful backward about going forward. It would be absurd not to expect high-profile acts of racism to continue to occur, just as always. Obama's administration won't have the power to prevent them; no administration could. Yes, such situations will now be addressed by an Obama-appointed attorney general, but they also must continue to be dealt with by civil rights organizations and, frankly, by each of us. The duty of the many cannot become the responsibility of the one, even if the one is a black president.

Obama surely knows that he owes enormous gratitude to the huge numbers of black Americans who toiled in his campaign and came out to the polls to help to elect him. I think every African American supporter of Obama can safely assume that Obama will do everything within his power to create a level playing field for all Americans by ensuring that they have a government that is just and fair."

He then goes on to say:

Most of us thought that we would never see a black president in our lifetimes. Our coming together this past November was a beginning; staying together through the tough times ahead will be progress; and working together to build bridges, not walls, will be the sign that we are creating a change all can depend on.

Well, Mr. Cleaver is correct in thinking that most thought we, namely America, would not see a black President. However, one can't help but question who he sees should "stay together to build." What is it that needs to be built? An understanding? For the most part, most if not all Americans are looking forward enough not to dwell on the past and curb the highly heated race talk.

Certainly, it is true, we must "build bridges, not walls."

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