The Obama effect and the African-American youth

Reading time 3 min.

Challenged by socio-economic inequality, poverty, teenage pregnancy, single parenthood, the inability to pursue formal education, drugs, crime, and imprisonment amongst other perils, the stereotypical African-American youth is pushed-to-the-wall, psychologically broken, angry, violent, and thus, has been and still is exposed to discrimination in what has been referred to by some as a psycho-social cycle.

Yes the slow pace of racial progress and racio-social upliftment took a big leap forward the very moment CNN called the 2008 elections. However, to think the discrimination African-American youths are subject to would stop abruptly would be misapprehension. And yet, yes, change has come to America.

But how is this change meant to reach? How will the average African-American be affected by Obama’s rise to power? Will it remedy the rigors on their streets; the challenges and ordeals of the average African-American youth? Whether the new era that has begun for America would mark a turning point the answers are yet to appear on the pages of history.

It must be reiterated, however, that the government under Barack Obama is not out to make amends for what the marginalized African-Americans have endured, nor is it out to cater only for their development, as opposed to the gratification of the American people at large. That Obama will be subjective is a careless thought. As President of the United States of America, cultural experts insist that his position could best serve as a field of positive energy swirling at the disposal of the average African-American youth to tap into or tap out of, for self-empowerment, and also help bridge the racial divide.

That Obama is president doesn’t mean that the long line of African-American felons will be more employable or that a school dropout will easily get a job just because change has come to America. No. That an African American is president doesn’t mean that the Sean Hannitys of this world will be any more receptive of racial appeals. That an African-American is president doesn’t mean that the law will be more tolerable on black offenders or that the situation between young African-American males and law enforcers will be any more pleasant.

Although there is the need for a necessary reallocation of national resources, an overhaul of the criminal justice system, a reengineering of education… to enhance integrity, the change that has come to America will not be entirely systemic, it will also be determined by how much every individual invests into making it a reality.

Every African-American youth will be responsible for the changes that will come to them. Of course they will still have the harder row to hoe, because change is slow. But even though change is slow, it has come to America. The Obama effect has created a new platform for African American youths to stand on, prestigiously. Pundits say black may become the new class. But if that is to stand true the average African American will have to redefine himself or herself in accordance with the aura Barack Obama commands.

Thus said, his election as the first black president could either be the biggest delusion in world history as far as bridging this divide is concerned, or it could be a premise to the biggest step towards ‘Black-White’ equality. But for this remarkable presidency to succeed, in terms of bringing equality, it is dependent on how determined African-Americans are to put this rallying cry for ‘Change’ into a working reality.

As far as dreams are there for dreamers to dream, an ultimate role model has been offered to the Average African-American to look up to. The big challenge here will be to see who grabs this new identity Barack Obama has created and live by its qualities. According to an observer, Obama has set the standards and those who dare to demand respect and admiration may dare to follow. It is incumbent on the African-American youth to break the chains of mental slavery and there is no better time than now.

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