"Dear Vibe Readers, I am running for president to take this country in a new direction. But I can't do it alone. I need you."I read the editor's note, and noticed she ended her passage by saying, "We're the ones we've been waiting for."
I sat and contemplated this single sentence for a while. Just sitting at my computer and thinking and thinking and thinking. And I thought, June Jordan was right.
I am a Black Woman. I teach at at a high school where we are 85% Black, 10% Latino, and 5% White. All of my high school classes are Black and I do my damnedest to teach them about being proud of where they come from, who they are, and where they are going. Everyday, I feel, in the words of that old spiritual, that I'm on the battlefield, attempting to help them understand the true GREATNESS that comes with being Black.
This is a task unto itself, for they have been taught they have so many things to be ashamed of, and the primary "thing" is their Blackness. To be Black, they've learned, is to be at the bottom of every barrel (socio economic, education, legal system etc.) They've learned that it is dangerous to want more, to do more, to be more. And I am here, trying to help them unlearn that, emphasizing--in my kids' cases--that it is okay NOT to want to use your body or step on someone else's to "get money," that it is okay use your mind, which is the greatest gift they are blessed with, not just to "get money," but to "get knowledge," to "get empowered."
I wish they could see in themselves what I see in them... that We Are the Ones We've Been Waiting For. That potential and possibility are in our very souls--that when we were not allowed to attend public schools with white students; we built our own elementary and junior high/high schools, our own universities and we educated our own students and these students went on to become world leaders. We did that because we were a prideful people who were able to take care of our own.
And with that in mind, I agree that we ARE the ones we have been looking for. From the Harriet Tubmans like myself, trying to lead my students to freedom from the jails they have created within their minds, to the Martin Luther Kings, trying to help us as a people realize we can achieve our life goals without violence, to the Fannie Lou Hamers, standing up for what we believe is right and just. Oh yes, WE ARE THE ONES WE HAVE BEEN WAITING FOR!
And so I return to the Vibe article and to the Obama candidacy. I think it is especially apt that Obama invoked that line long, long months ago. No, I do not believe Obama will be able to right every wrong in America, but I do believe that between him and McCain, Obama is the best man for the job.
And, yes, I believe in so many ways, he is the one we have been waiting for...