As I stated in an earlier blog, I was blessed to have “my face in the place” when the Honorable President Barack Obama visited Kalamazoo to give the keynote address at my Alma Mater Kalamazoo Central High School (Go Giants!). While many stories have been written about the Presidents speech, the amazing young people that participated, the outstanding leadership of Kalamazoo Public Schools (Dr. Michael Rice) and Rock-Star principal Von Washignton, Jr.; the story that pricked my heart while maneuvering my family back to our vehicle has yet to be spoken.
While sitting in the beautiful University Arena, I took a moment to breathe in the experience with all of my senses in tact. I saw a mix of people that crossed all of the lines that usually separate us. Young, old, black, white, male, female, gay, straight, rich and poor, parents and community leaders, billionaires and coaches, educated and illiterate. This was truly a multi-cultural/diverse experience (notice that diverse does not just mean black and white). And I must note that although we see our cultural differences as polar opposites, there is far more diversity within cultures than outside of them.
Within that experience, I noticed that there was a deeper context that required investigation . A snapshot Black America.
My gaze into this snapshot began with the guest of honor. For the first time in United States history, there is a multi-racial President of the United States who identifies with the African American culture. I know that many of you have heard most people identify the President as Black. I try to call it as it is. He is bi-racial; and as my favorite comedian the late/great Redd Foxx said “I’m part black, part white, part Cherokee, and part Italian; so you can’t hate but a quarter of me!” Although meant for satire, it represents our lasting belief in the “one drop rule,” if you are part-black, you’re “all-black.” I digress.
In the same room, I saw leaders, both of the free world, education, business, and religious sitting just inches away from high school drop-outs. I saw criminals and police, hustlers and investment brokers all in the same row.
What does this mean in short. Some of us are leading, some are aspiring to lead. There are others of us who are drowning under life’s circumstantial sea. Some of us are selfish observers (those who only stayed for the speech, not for the kids). Some of us are reflecting and transforming our lives to a better space. And finally, (the hottest story for the media), some of us are in the midst of greatness, merely an arms length away: and we are asleep.
What a picture! What a representation! I’m sad that it takes Air Force One to bring all of us together, however, I’m glad that we can observe the the authenticity of our diversity, and the need to keep striving for excellence for ALL!
Peace, Blessings, and Hmmmm…..,