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I Am You


Next Monday, Jan. 18th, I will co-host a televised town hall meeting with MSNBC’s Chris Matthews called “Obama’s America: 2010 and Beyond.” It will take place on the campus of historically black Texas Southern University in Houston. Along with a panel of people and a live audience, Chris Matthews and I will be discussing some very important topics regarding race, the census, affirmative action and a lot of issues that are important to black America.

When I stand up at the podium, I’m representing you, the TJMS audience and the readers of BlackAmericaWeb.com. If it were not for you, trust me, I wouldn’t have been invited to co-host this event. The people at MSNBC recognize that each day, I am connected to millions of black people. After all, if anyone in mainstream media wants to reach black people, where else would they come but here? We’ve spent years building a “product” that is designed to be for and about black people. We’ve been unwavering in our efforts to remain true to our audience, and this is one of the benefits. They want to know what you think, and so do I.

When most of us worked so hard to elect the first African-American president, I believe many of us had idealistic expectations about what it would look like once it came into fruition. Now reality is setting in for everyone, including the president. My friend Tavis Smiley tried his best to get us to look at the big picture and consider the very tough job that lies ahead for the first black president. Most of us didn’t want to hear it. Love Tavis or hate him, he was really trying to prepare us for what we’re facing now.

It’s tough out here for everybody – the war, the economy, foreclosures. Any candidate who would have inherited the mess left by the last administration would be having a tough time. But I believe that this president, because he is a black man, is catching a special kind of hell. That’s actually sort of a no-brainer. The question is do we stick with President Obama unconditionally, or can we support him and honestly call him on issues that we don’t agree with. We are all charting new territory here: He, as the first black president and us, having one.

So, let’s get real for a minute and have an honest conversation. How is the president doing? Is he addressing issues you think are important specifically to black America? Has his presidency brought us together as a nation or are we more divided now, politically, racially and economically?

If you look back in history, a heavy burden lies on most firsts, especially if they’re black. Whether it’s Jackie Robinson, Mae Jemison, Hattie McDaniel, Ruby Bridges or James Perkins, a high cost is paid to be a black pioneer. We know that. The question is: How can we help make this black president’s moment in history less about race and racism and more about his leadership in these crucial times … or even, can we? Or should we

What do you think? I need responses to those questions and some questions of your own. Hit me on this blog or on my Facebook or Twitter pages. And save the date: Monday, Jan. 18th – that’s MLK Day – on MSNBC, from 9 to 11 p.m. CST, and check me out as I represent you. Click Here to submit your responses.

I’ll have more things for you to consider in my next blog. Stay tuned!