Many people saw Obama’s victory as a turning point for blacks in America. Did you see it that way as well?
The moment I heard he’d won, I felt a lot of things all at once: happy, relieved, proud, and sad. One of the reasons I felt sad was because of the view I’d had of America for years. Whenever I’d hear someone say, ‘You can be anything you want to be in America!’ I would always smirk and say, ‘Yeah, right.’ This country has forever been viewed by the world as a ‘whites only’ place. Blacks were viewed as second-class citizens who could only go so far. That idea of America is dead to me now. I think
America is a place where you can be anything you want to be, which is amazing.
Some argue that now blacks and other minorities have no excuse for not achieving what they want to achieve. What are your thoughts?
A lot of people were achieving great things before Obama was elected. I think that there are people who won’t be affected and there are people who will. The bottom line is that people have always found a way to be successful. I think that if we focus on education and being proud to be educated, and if we focus on fathers and being fathers, a lot of the other ancillary problems would go away. However, it’s unrealistic to believe that change is going to happen quickly.
Do you see Obama’s presidency as a sign that racism in America has ended?
No, because at the same time we still have young black men dying at an unprecedented rate. And the N-word has been around forever, and yet, Obama still managed to win. I’m not suggesting that the race problem is over at all. What I am saying is that America looks decidedly different now than I had
This story originally appeared in the January 2009 issue of Black Enterprise magazine.