Friday, July 11, 2008

Barack Obama and African American Christians

With the very real possibility of Barack Obama becoming the next president of the United States, there is a certain level of excitement that is sweeping across a number of circles, especially for many in the African American community. Since I work with college students, mainly African Americans, I can see how so many have placed a lot of hope that an Obama presidency could bring to the nation.

Because of his position on some issues, it places Christians (black and non-black alike) in an awkward place when choosing who to vote for. I certainly feel it. I believe that his faith in Christ is genuine (just like I also feel President Buth's faith is genuine), but I also am troubled by some of his stances (just as I'm troubled by some of our current President's). So whether it's Senator Obama or Senator McCain or some other third-party candidate, I can't find anyone out there that holds an agreeable stance on all the issues that I find important.

Politics is a tricky issue and I doubt there's ever been a politician that's been able to fulfill all of their campaign promises. But the case of Obama is a unique one. This country has only known a white man as its chief executive and never before has a black man been a viable candidate for President (sorry, Revs. Jackson and Sharpton, but you never had a prayer). So his candidacy does represent some progress in America. But the questions still remain. Pastor Eric Redmond, a friend of The Impact Movement and respected pastor from Maryland, has some great insights on this matter which can be read in his post entitled, "How Can Any Christian African American Vote for Obama? Throwing the Race Card on an All Black Table" Pastor Redmond shares his thoughts from an African American perspective when he says:
"...for African Americans, there is a sense of hope no longer being deferred. Instead, hope is at the front door knocking furiously, waiting to see if African Americans will answer. If we open the door, forty million African Americans are going to witness a fellow African American getting the largest slice of the American Dream Pie—a dessert many had hoped to see people of color eat in their lifetime, but the many fell asleep having embraced such promises from afar.
As the struggle for social and economic equality has been a struggle for all African Americans, regardless of belief system(s), we all share in the joy when one of our own achieves the (presumptive) nomination for the highest office in the land—an office that has been reserved for white males only until now. Obama’s candidacy would allow all African Americans to say to our forefathers, “we finally did it!
Your attempts at escaping slavery, deaths by lynching, scars from the scourge of slave masters’ whips, pain from the full blast of unleashed water hoses and muzzle-free police dogs, humiliation by white hecklers at lunch counters, degradation at “coloreds only” fountains and restrooms, indignation on the back of buses, forced acceptance of poorer educational materials and facilities, and marches at the threat of beatings and bombings have not been for naught! Hope, yea victory, is finally here! We are equal at the highest level!"

Whether you are a supporter of Barack Obama or not, hopefully you can see the historical significance of his nomination and what it represents for so many in the black community.

No comments: