Taken from a Jan. 20 audio column recorded by prisonradio.org.
For the second time in American history, a Black man takes the office of U.S. president — a feat not thought possible just a few years ago.
The re-election of Barack Hussein Obama to the nation’s highest office is indeed a watershed moment and a tribute to a man who is a true master of the game of politics.
Few politicians could have prevailed against the headwinds bearing down upon him: a mobilized and highly motivated opposition, the monetary windfall of campaign riches made possible by the Supreme Court’s Citizen’s United ruling, and the candidacy of an exceedingly wealthy and utterly ruthless opponent, Mitt Romney.
Despite occasional setbacks, few politicians, Black or white, have had careers so blessed.
But the conditions of Black Americans could hardly be called blessed. By all the measurements by which we rank life, Blacks rank at the bottom — where life is a nightmare.
Health, education, employment, life expectancy, mortality, incarceration — you name it — the figures betray a life at the margins; lives at the bottom.
Moreover, it is unrealistic to expect any change for the better in four years — no matter who is president — nor what color he or she is.
Them’s the facts.
It is a great and remarkable symbol that a Black person is elected — and re-elected — to the presidency.
It is a dazzling spectacle. Yet, it remains a spectacle.
The lives of everyday Black folk are just as grim as they were four years ago. They still must seek a way out of the prison-keep that is America.
A new, dark-skinned warden doesn’t change that.
Education will still be a dizzying maze for millions of children, who leave school bitter and uneducated.
The police are a repressive presence all day long, making life unbearable.
And behind it all stands what legal scholar Michelle Alexander calls “The New Jim Crow” (also the title of her book), a system of oppressive containment on a scale that the world has never seen.
A one-day celebration and four more years of hell.