(‘76 Contributor) What does that mean? What does that have to do with the election or the price of fish in France for that matter? I’ll lay all of this out and illustrate one of the reasons why black-Americans are supporting Barack Obama and why we need to reassess that.
Jackie Robinson of course was the first black-American to play professionally in Major League Baseball. He played in the Negro leagues then was drafted to MLB farm teams in Montreal & Florida until April 15, 1947 when he played his first game as a Brooklyn Dodger. He wound up being named “Rookie of the Year”, “National League MVP” and leading the National League in stolen bases all within his first couple seasons as a major leaguer. He also became the highest paid player in Brooklyn Dodger history & had many fans both black and white throughout his career.
The above is just a brief synopsis of Jackie Robinson’s storied career in the MLB. He was also a decent man who exercised enormous restraint and courage in the face of truly ugly and vicious racial discrimination, prejudice and adversity. He carried himself like a man & a professional at all times. He left the MLB and became an executive and fought in the civil rights movement. Jackie Robinson gave Black Americans a role model and an example of what can happen when you work hard. In the face of overwhelming malice and prejudice—a true example of grace under pressure.
Now, what if Jackie Robinson had gotten into the MLB as a result of good intentions by Branch Rickey and the MLB but wound up whiffing 8 out of 10 times at bat, dropping balls and over throwing bases? What would that have done to the future opportunities of other black ballplayers in the Negro Leagues looking to follow in Jackie’s footsteps?
There certainly would have been plenty of whites in the league and in the stands who would have crowed loudly and proudly “See, they just can’t cut it, they really are inferior to whites.” Would it have also had a similar effect on the psyche of some in the Negro Leagues. What if, 5 days before Jackie played his first MLB game he said “We are 5 days away from fundamentally transforming Major League Baseball”? What if, after 1 year of poor performance in the MLB Jackie said, “I inherited a horrible situation and that is why I need more time”? What if, after 4 years of poor performance & on the verge of being released from the team, Jackie had said, “If you’re successful in the major leagues, you didn’t hit those balls, someone else did that”?
Of course none of this happened and Jackie Robinson had a stellar career as a major league ballplayer. Jackie was fully aware of how historic his situation was and he met the challenge as a man. He blamed no one else for his mistakes and he was gracious and honest in his successes. We as black-Americans had a lot invested in Jackie Robinson and cheered with pride at his exploits on the field. He overcame so much and achieved even more.
Let’s contrast this now with the election of our first black (technically “mixed race” but let’s not quibble) President of the United States of America, Barack Hussein Obama. I contend that 80-85% of the 95% of Black Americans who voted for him in 2008 are only voting for him again out of “Jackie Robinson Syndrome”. That is the fear that if Obama loses the election after such a horrible first term, we will be hard pressed to have another black-American ascend to the White House again. This is a false assumption.
Barack Obama is not our Jackie Robinson. Yes, he is the first non-white to be elected President but he has not conducted himself with the honor or dignity that Jackie had. Jackie, through his tenacity, dignity, athletic ability & grace, elevated the Major Leagues in the face of enormous obstacles. Obama has not done the same in his role as President. Forget his race for a moment and pretend he was a blond haired, blue eyed democrat. Perhaps, named Barry O’Brien from Schaumberg, IL (an upper-middle class Chicago suburb). Would you still support him? If Obama was truly who we were told he was, (a uniter who was “post-racial”) as opposed to the class warrior he has shown himself to be—he would be truly historic. Even with the difficult economic circumstances he “inherited” and has not yet improved, Obama would likely be seen with more charity and grace by those who didn’t vote for him.
Barack Obama’s historic election to Presidency could have been the shining example of America’s immense progress toward realizing Dr King’s dream. It wasn’t because he was elected more for historic hype than content of character. Cult of personality over substance of accomplishment. Racism is a human condition and therefore since human’s are imperfect we can never have a perfect country or world. We can however live by our founding principles of “All men are created equal”. But, all men cannot have equal outcomes and be free. Recognize the good we have in common and celebrate it while remembering we are a nation of laws and not men. The bad in common will have blind and not social justice rendered.
Barack Obama is in many ways a tragic figure in American history. He had a confusing and unorthodox upbringing. But in spite of that he ascended to become the leader of the greatest country in the world. His tragedy is not really his but ours. He will be just fine. His children will continue to live a wealthy and privileged life. Even if he is not re-elected, he won’t be working the drive-thru window at KFC anytime soon. The tragedy is that after so many of us, black, white, brown, etc., pinned so much of our dreams to him in our noble and overwhelming desire to shake off the shackles of our complicated racial history—we bet on the wrong horse. Even those of us who did not vote for him still held a flicker of hope in our hearts. We internally hoped he was the real deal, the political version of Jackie Robinson.
Strike 1: Obamacare, instead of jobs and fixing the economy
Strike 2: Fast and Furious cover up with a dead US Border patrol
Strike 3: Benghazi cover up, with a dead US Ambassador and 3 dead American heroes.
Barack Obama is a designated campaigner, not a President.
America swung. He struck out. Vote wisely.
Mike Jones wrote this article for Rocky Mountain Black Conservatives, on whose leadership team he serves.