We all have plans, schedules and agendas, and our ego – the human side of us – makes us think sometimes that what WE have to do takes precedence over everything else.
For the past month, my mind has been on two main issues: The MLK Memorial and march led by Rev. Al, and what I could do to get black leadership on the same page regarding re-electing President Obama. The latter issue consumed me. I found myself fixating on the fact that some people that I’ve followed, supported, leaned on and socialized with could not see look beyond their own agendas and look at the big picture. To me, the big picture was Election Day 2012.
But when first an earthquake hit the D.C./Maryland/Virginia area and then came Hurricane Irene, all of a sudden, the picture changed. Now, we all – no matter who we are or who we support politically – should be turning our minds and hearts toward helping people who suddenly have found their lives in chaos. Like many of us, they also had plans and schedules and agendas that are meaningless now. Just think – somebody last week who is stranded in D.C. was at the mall getting comfortable shoes for the march. Somebody in NYC was deciding on Friday whether they’d go to church Sunday or stay home and watch the football games, and I had the best excuse ever not to volunteer to drive members to the Potter’s House in a church bus (a “TJMS” family inside joke). And this morning, none of those things matter.
A billion in dollars of damage, thousands left with no power and at least 15 deaths later, we find ourselves once again leaning on each other for help. Six years ago, we witnessed the devastation Hurricane Katrina had on the Gulf Coast. Thankfully, this time around, FEMA appeared to be on its game, and props to first responders and the people who helped make evacuation procedures run as smooth as possible.
Still, we know, when it rains on America, it pours, floods and blows the roof off Black America.
The president addressed the United States of America at 5 p.m. Eastern time yesterday, and I hope everyone heard what he said to the citizens of this country. He didn’t address black America personally because that’s not what he was elected to do.
If you didn’t hear what he said, I’ll paraphrase: “America will be with you in your hour of need.” To the governors of the states hit, he said, “If you need something, we want to know about it.” Then he thanked the citizens of the United States for being “a shining example of how we pull together in need.”
Barack Obama is the president of the United States, and I and most of those watching looked to him and felt better knowing that he was on the case. On Tuesday, he will address our audience on the “TJMS.”
And so, to Black America, I just want to remind us that we also need to be a shining example of pulling together, not only in the face of the literal storms that come, but the storms of unemployment, high gas prices, wars and anything else that comes our way. Struggle is not new us; neither is depending on one another to overcome the obstacles.
In 2012, we will get yet another chance to pull together, but if we wait until November to start, and are distracted by those who believe that the president isn’t black enough, it will be too late.
After the president spoke on Sunday, he turned the podium over to the head of FEMA who told us that there’s a three-step process for weathering any big storm:
We can prepare to re-elect President Obama by making sure everyone we know is registered and realizes the importance of going to the polls in November. Find out what your state requires in order for you to vote ahead of time: Voter registration card, drivers license, state I.D., whatever. Once you have it right, educate others.
Donate, volunteer and hype it up – just like you did the last time.
We will respond next November by actually going to the polls and taking people with us. No one stays home. Don’t take anything for granted.
We will recover by making sure, as we always do, that our people are taken care of, no matter who is in office.
Today we re-launched our BlackAmericaWeb.com Relief Fund. We started it after Hurricane Katrina and have used it in other emergency situations, like the earthquake in Haiti. We cannot ever depend on one entity to rescue us. We’ve survived all this time in this country – first as slaves, depending on families that we had to create ourselves. We’ve looked to our neighbors, our churches, community organizations, our teachers, HBCUs and of course, God, to bring us this far. That will never stop.
So, for the life of me, I can’t understand why when he have a black president who is doing us proud, some people want to put everything on his shoulders to make him responsible for everything we don’t have or that’s going wrong.
The TJMS, Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network, the NAACP, the Urban League, Rev. Jesse Jackson, black churches, and hopefully the Congressional Black Caucus are here to bring attention to injustices, give support and have our backs. That’s they’re there to do.
No matter who is elected in 2012, we will still need each other, but I believe we will be better off if we give President Barack Obama the chance to finish what he started.
How deep is your love and commitment to Black America?
If you want to help your brothers and sisters hit hard by Hurricane Irene, we’ll accept your donation to the BlackAmericaWeb.com relief fund, no matter how you plan to vote. But if your love is as deep as I think it is, I believe you will want to ride it out together in 2012, too. Let’s not panic and lose what we’ve already gained. Let’s re-elect the Big Chief.