We’ve all expressed our opinions, vented, aired it out, and in my heart of hearts, no matter how we got to this point, I believe most of us share a common goal – to re-elect President Obama. That can only happen if we take all the time and energy we’ve been using to debate, defend – and yes, digress (Tavis didn’t patent that word, did he?) and move forward. Like the mamas on my staff tell their little boys when they’re distracted by whatever is on the PSP, DS or Wii screen, “Let’s focus.”
If we can learn anything from Republicans, it is that they have the ability to not just rally together, but to grab onto a single candidate, issue, piece of propaganda, whatever, and clamp down like a pit bull. Once they make a decision, they will not be swayed. How many times have you listened to one of them recite the party line, and you think to yourself, I KNOW they don’t really believe that? Maybe not, but by being consistent and steady until the end, they come out victorious – or, at the least, united.
That’s what we need to do more.
Of course, we are not all “like minded” across the board, and no one is expected to believe that every single thing that President Obama says or does is perfect and beyond reproach. But, let’s look at the big picture and remember that if he’s going to win, he needs all of our votes – every last one of them.
At one time, I didn’t see the harm in the public criticisms from black leaders, but a conversation I had with a friend and colleague who voted for Obama last time around made me think differently. This guy is black, high school-educated and gets most of his news from our show, CNN, MSNBC and C-SPAN. A few weeks ago, when Tavis Smiley and Cornel West began to make the rounds on the cable networks, he started to have second thoughts about Obama. He actually began to let the negativity seep into his brain and said, “What IS Obama doing for Black people? Look at how many of us are unemployed; he’s not doing nothing about that.”
That’s when I knew that more harm was being done than some people realize. Keep in mind, that was just one person who happened to express his opinion to me. How many more black people will stay home from the polls this November because they think the prez is turning his back on black people?
Forget that that’s a lie – that he has done plenty for African-Americans and will do more if he gets the chance to serve another term. Forget that bin Laden was captured and killed under his watch. Let’s not even deal with the facts right now. Let’s deal with just our blackness and pride – and loyalty. We have the chance to re-elect the first African-American president, and that’s what we ought to be doing. And I’m not afraid or ashamed to say that as black people, we should do it because he’s a black man. There are a great number of people who are against him because he’s a black man. That should be enough motivation for us to band together and get it done.
I’ll be making an announcement soon about voter registration and what we’ll do on the TJMS to make sure that everybody is ready come November. In the meantime, we need to start showing the same kind of enthusiasm as we did when we were electing the president the first time. Please don’t think it’s going to be any easier because we made it happen before. In fact, this time it will be harder.
For years, I’ve heard people who weren’t around during the civil rights movement say that they wished they had been there. They have a deep need to be a part of some great historic moment that will make a difference, not just to us but to future generations as well. Well, this is our moment. And before I hear the haters say President Obama is no Dr. Martin Luther King, of course he isn’t. There will never be another Dr, King, Malcolm X, JFK … and there doesn’t need to be.
We’re not dwelling on the past – not 50 years ago, not even 50 days ago. Whether you’re in a race to the finish line, the goal post or to making history, you’ve got to keep your eye on the prize if you’re going to win.
The naysayers have a vested interest in chunking rocks. We can’t stop that. What’s our interest? What are we willing to stand up for, fight for, make a sacrifice for?
When is the last time we did more than talk about how much we support the president? When is the last time you mailed a check to his campaign? When you hear people who claim to represent you and black America saying things you don’t believe or support, you ought to light up the phones, send emails, tweets, write blogs, fax. Every little bit helps. Don’t let hate, pettiness, jealousy, whatever, overshadow truth.
We’re on a mission, and a mission isn’t always fun, sexy or comfortable. When you step out there and believe in what you say and what you do, you’ve got to take the heat and keep it moving.
In the words of that great philosopher Jay-Z, on to the next.
Focus on November. We’re moving forward. Can we do it together? That’s the only way we will be victorious.