By William A. Foster, IV
The power of the white world is threatened whenever a black man refuses to accept the white world’s definitions. – James Baldwin
There is something to be said for African Americans. We are some of the most forgiving and oft as Dr. John Henrik Clarke said naive – socially and politically – of the rationale behind the behavior of other groups in their interaction with us. Our desire for acceptance (see assimilation) into the mainstream of America society sometimes makes us accept behavior from others that pushses against our own economic, political, and in this case social interest.
After picking up a friend last night, I headed towards home and we passed one of Houston’s most respected and renowned eateries, The Breakfast Klub. Located in Midtown, an area of Houston which was gentrified and was formerly a combination of the city’s Third and Fourth Wards. That in and of itself could require an entire article to be written but I digress. I glanced over and noticed the mural of President Obama, commissioned by the restaurant’s owners Marcus and Melvinie Davis, to show their immense respect and support for the president had been annihilated with swaths of paint. Mr. and Mrs. Davis are an HBCU family and Mr. Davis proudly and oftly shows his support for his alma mater Texas Southern University for which he also serves as the alumni association’s president.
The mural as I recall was originally put up about four years ago during the now president’s time as a candidate. Even then I recall it being vandalized on numerous occasions with one particular incident involving what appeared to be red paint balls shot toward President Obama’s head in the mural. These acts are brazen to say the least as the owners’ went so far to implement security cameras around it. To say that President Obama has been polarizing and an uncomfortable presidency for America would be an understatement. The image of a powerful African American family has even been polarizing for many and responses to such have ranged from outright threatening to veil undertones of menace. Vandalizing a mural is more than just saying you do not like the president. You can do that on blogs, television shows, twitter, and even in an article. I have even been firmly against some of the president’s policies as they relate to African American development and overall economics. However, I show the office of the president respect whomever is in it, which we know is not a simple or easy job and I show an African American man who is a husband, father, and striving for an ambition beyond himself respect. Something some of our combatants do not seem to want to do. Many in the African American community were not fans of the Bush family. However, you never saw effigies burned in our community towards any of the men holding the office of president no matter how much we disliked them.
Maybe it is our fault that these things continue to happen because there is no consequence to the harming of anything we possess and hold dear when stamped and trampled on by others – not even our very lives. We are always ready to forgive. We are always ready to march. We are never ready to act in self-defense or even take an offensive to show we are not doormats. If anything were to happen to an images or statues of Washington, Reagan, even dare I say Clinton – there would be a call to arms about the sanctity of respecting the institution of the presidency of the United States. Yet, we concede to disrespectful behavior after a few cries and whimpers about not being treated fairly.
This morning after taking another drive past the mural it appears that the owners’ have either decided they have had enough or that they will repaint it better and bolder. It is yet to be determined as they have painted over the entire mural in white paint and in doing so erasing the vandalism and the President’s picture. There is much irony in that prior sentence when one examines it. In the end, I believe they should have left it up for awhile. To send a reminder to African America that if you believe we have arrived because there is an African American president you truly do not understand the war you are beholden in. We have turned both cheeks and even dropped our trousers and had those slapped. Our institutions come under fire and asked if they are relevant. Our citizens from babies sleep in Detroit to men the night before their wedding day in New York day shot down by police and “police” citizens. Our social fabric attacked at every waking and sleeping moment by others. Will we ever respond or continue to cower our social interest again and again and again for the sake of “peace” and “unity” while our humanity is disrespected and trampled upon?