This Black History Month, A Wary Eye On The Future

A Personal Perspective

As February is Black History Month, it is typically time to reflect on how far we’ve come and how far we still have to go.

There are many who think that because we have had a black president, then we should “shut up and stop complaining.” And indeed electing the first African-American president was a glorious moment, not just for blacks, but for all people of color and even millions of whites, who also voted to elect him.

By ourselves, we could never have elected Barack Obama. It took a “rainbow coalition” and it really was quite a feat. Obama did a terrific job as president. But he has been succeeded by a president whose main agenda is to undo Barack Obama’s legacy.

Despite his best efforts, Donald Trump could not get Obama thrown out of his duly elected office with his insane birther movement. So, Trump did the next best thing. He got himself elected, so he could feed his massive ego and try to wipe Obama’s presidency off the map.

Trump got the presidency on racist rhetoric and unrealistic promises to racist, gullible people.

After winning, he still did not walk back his pathetic election year racism. Instead, he upped it with his Muslim ban decree—and he has enabled racists and anti-Semites to crawl out of the gutter, most notably in Charlottesville, Virginia. There, someone actually drove a car through a crowd of counter-protestors, killing 34 year-old Heather Heyer.

The president, forced to address the situation some days later, stood before the nation and blamed “both sides” and remarked that there were “some good people” among the neo Nazis and KKK thugs.

Seeing the faces of those torch-bearing bigots shook decent people everywhere to the core. They are so emboldened by the Trump presidency that they decided to forego the usual white hoods that would have concealed their identity. These are not your grandfather’s white supremacists. This is the KKK, millennium style.

The sight of those brutes took us right back to what we thought was a bygone era. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and countless others were killed in the struggle for freedom and equality. How could this be happening again? The president is how.

So yes, we have come a long way, but there are people who want to send us back to the dark days of the south. Trump’s “both sides” speech was as much a leap backward as Lyndon B. Johnson’s Civil Rights Act of 1964 was a leap forward.

Yes, we do have a lot to celebrate. We have gone into space as scientists and explorers and we have made names for ourselves as neurosurgeons, TV titans, Oscar winners, business tycoons, Nobel Laureates and academics—and yes, the president of the United States.

But if we fall asleep basking in self-congratulatory comfort about how far we’ve come, we will have a rude awakening when Trump and his supporters get done turning back the calendar on us.

As former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill once said, “This is no time for ease and comfort. It is time to dare and endure.”

So, by all means, let us celebrate our hard-won victories and accomplishments this Black History Month. But let us also be aware that we have much to lose if we don’t remain vigilant.

To put Churchill’s elegant admonition into cool, contemporary Black colloquialism, stay “woke,” people!

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