Campaigning change, but for whom?

Regardless of political party, every candidate in this presidential election is running under the banner of change. In a time when Americans seek recovery from the last dreadful eight years of the Bush administration, any

Rebarack-obama-official-small.jpggardless of political party, every candidate in this presidential election is running under the banner of change. In a time when Americans seek recovery from the last dreadful eight years of the Bush administration, any candidate offering a sharp contrast to Bush will do.

Of all the candidates, however, Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., seems to be the true champion of change, at least in theory. To his credit, Obama is one of the only candidates to produce a 62-page outline of his proposed changes, appropriately titled “The Blueprint for Change.”

The booklet provides a 16-month plan for getting out of Iraq, support of universal health care and reform of the No Child Left Behind Act. Without question, Obama represents a change.

Yet, I am still skeptical. Can he put his theories into practice? And the real question: Does Obama represent a radical political shift for black Americans in this country?

“Obama definitely articulates ideals that penetrate to some of the core needs of people in this country, who want a fresh, vibrant energy in the White House,” said Gabriel Bryant, program coordinator at Philadelphia Futures, a non-profit organization that provides students from low-income families with college preparation, and director of its Young Men’s Initiative Program.

Yet, Obama has been able to run his campaign and gain support with seeming disregard of his own race. This is validated by his primary win in Utah, which alone is enough proof that he does not have to court the black vote.

“For some, though I recognize it is not the full truth, an Obama presidency would signify one of – if not the last – steps of the Civil Rights Movement, [which is] integrating fully into this system, by being elected president of the United States,” Bryant said.

Though the election of a black president would certainly signify a landmark in U.S. history, it would not wholly translate into a radical political shift for blacks. Let’s not forget the Hurricane Katrina aftermath and the Jena Six, which are manifestations of this reality: institutional racism is at the core of the nation’s political structure.

To believe Obama alone, within a four-year term, can tackle the complex sociopolitical problems within black communities is to expect too much. This concept ignores the fact that the change that Black America needs will start by coming together and organizing around a specific agenda.

“What [Obama] does, for some, is provide a reformist possibility,” Bryant said. “I believe psychologically he gives inspiration and hope to the downtrodden and disenfranchised.”

Malaika T. Carpenter can be reached at

1 Comment

  1. Our short memory as black people has the potential to stifle the advancement of our political equality for decades to come. Here is what I mean. Up to a few months ago, almost all of us jokingly called Bill Clinton the real first black president. Jokes or not, clearly both Bill and Hillary Clinton have done more for African-Americans than any US Presidential Administration in my life-time, maybe in our entire history. I personally believe that Hillary is clearly a better candidate than Barack (atleast right now she is). I say that because she gives details, when he gives general comments. He counters her experience claim with his claim for superior judgement. Well yes, he got it right in a single speech in which he had no political obligation. And clearly Hillary has made some mistakes. But she has outlived her mistakes, learned from them and become an even better representative for the people, all while never wavering in her loyalty to us (African-American’s). Personally, I will take the life-time over the one time, anytime! This is something that she cannot tout, but we as a people should have the wherewithall to remember it on our own. With all of that said, I believe the real danger is that others are watching, studying and taking notes. And when the dust settles, the message is clear–do not waste your time trying to cater to African-American’s, they do not remember. Of course if you truly believe Barack is the best candidate, then my theory holds NO water. And to all of those who have been energized by his candidacy and truly believe in him, I say he IS a very good candidate. But to those who have simply jumped on the bandwagon because of the mere fact that he’s black and he’s hot right now, I say “shame on you!” Don’t be hood-winked, listen! Listen with your brain. Hillary speaks substance and Barack cannot keep up with her(on any issue)! The Clintons have spent a life time of addressing the issues that affect blacks and they did it when it wasn’t cool to do it. If we choose to not honor and support that kind of service, we may not see it again for a very, very long time. Because we are literally telling the rest of America that our vote is not worth your effort. And that is a very, very dangerous message to send out…I am William E. Walker II, an African-American Man, and I approve of, even implore the mass distribution of this message.

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