Keep Hope Alive!

In my last column for this news site attention for the 300 million black Americans. Most are elated about the election of Barack Obama.

He is the first black president of the country. Some white people are still having trouble with that. Black Americans voted with full conviction for Obama. But there are also black Americans that have their doubts.

The economic crisis gets all attention in the media now. A pity because there is an important question that is snowed under now but will determine in the long run what America will really look like.

Bill Cosby rails at black youth

A perfect role model like Obama confuses angry African Americans, who still believe that whites are guilty of their subordination. I heartily disagree with that analysis. It comes from – I say it sharply on purpose – from the grumble coalition within the black community.

I can write this unpunished because for example the black TV star Bill Cosby says the same for years already. He has railed at mainly black youth in the entire country because they behave irresponsibly.

They do not do anything in school, use drugs, are criminal and boys impregnate girls. A shame, yelled Cosby. Control yourself. Don’t blame others for your own failing.

Or take black columnist and activist William Raspberry. He also believes that the easy complaining should be put to an end. He accuses black parents of weak behavior. They have no discipline and carry that attitude over to their children. Raspberry’s advice: do not blame others if you turn your life into ruins.

Before you know it you are half a racist yourself

This is a tricky discussion. Before you know it, you are half a racist yourself. But – just as in the Netherlands with the discussion about the “fucking Moroccans” – you can better talk about it than silence it. In the Netherlands, Nebahat Albayrak, Ahmed Marcouch, Ahmed Aboutaleb and many other successful Dutch-born foreigners are the role models.

Does their success proof that all Moroccans and Turks go far if only they try hard? Can you tell misfits: “It’s your own fault. Look at the successful Dutch-born foreigners that conquer all misfortunes.”

In America, Obama is the big example now. Some Afro-Americans are afraid that every complaint about discrimination from now on will be countered with:

“Shut up. Obama reached the ultimate. Get to work. You can get ahead as well.”

Barack Obama as beacon of hope

A certain impatience is noticeable among white Americans: Why do Spanish speakers and Asians often fare so much better whereas they are much shorter in America?

The response always is: “That is because they have not experienced slavery.” Are you allowed to commit crimes or use drugs because your grandma and granddad were not allowed to sit next to a white person in the bus? And slavery has been abolished more than 150 years ago. And why is it that so many black Americans (Oprah, Condoleezza Rice, Colin Powell) are very successful?

How does Obama navigate through these emotional extremes? Luckily, he tries to conciliate. Thank goodness!

An angry, bitter attitude does not lead to anything. With pessimism, you spend a lot of energy and you make yourself powerless. And it raises aversion with others.

Optimism on the other hand, gives you energy. It gives you control over your own life. It makes you strong. Just look at the inspiring charisma of Obama.

How wonderful it would be if Obama can be a beacon of hope and inspiration for black Americans.

Who know America will then really become color blind. Keep hope alive!

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