GOOD TIMES (Ain't We Lucky We Got'Em)
I am reminded of another beautiful black family from Chicago that I came to love around 30 years ago in a rerun. & James, Florida, JJ, Willona, Michael and, when we were lucky, Penny too. Specifically, I remember the Black Jesus episode - something I could have only watched in reruns.
JJ painted a scandalous picture of Jesus and little brother Michael hung it in the family living room. The painting was traditional - except for the outrageous fact that Kid Dyn-O-Mite depicted Jesus as a black man. Momma Florida and Daddy James and my eight year old self were having none of it - the very idea! & The Prince of Peace - a black man! As you might imagine, it took about three more commercial breaks before I was brought around to the idea that Jesus was as black as he was white...and so it goes, another life lesson learned in the Evans family living room.
Sometimes these lessons came on Fred Sanford's couch or in George Jefferson's deluxe apartment in the sky or on Willis and Arnold's bunk bed. And I was not the only Generation X kid soaking in incidental lessons from 1970s sitcoms. I was not the only white boy with a crush on Penny (Janet Jackson) and I knew more than a few black girls with a crush on Chachi. But mostly, we all watched these same shows because they were funny and in the end these families all loved each other, no matter if they were Jeffersons or Cunninghams.
Seven years ago, the family home was attacked and we realized it was actually fragile. We didn't handle it well and the family has been on the verge of breaking up ever since. We were told to despise our neighbors. Our heads of household abandoned us and abused us and turned us against our selves. They kept secrets from us, spied on us and refused to talk to us. It hurts to watch the family fall apart. We felt helpless. & We felt cynical.
And then Barack Obama. He reminded us who we were, who we are and who we have always promised to become. We're not quite a happy family yet, but all happy families are the same and America has never been like any other family in the history of nations. We were founded on the most powerful idea ever put forth, equality. Generation X and those that have followed are not "post-racial"; Obama's election has not cured all that ails us. But the momentous gains of the Civil Rights era gave my generation the advantage of opportunity. We were able to observe the self-evident truth of equality by way of experience - in our classrooms, on the bus, in our neighborhoods and importantly - on our television screens..
Twice in this not yet completed decade, our television screens have held images that have changed the course of the world. The collapsing Towers forced a cruel and terrible vision on the planet. Around the globe, the wealthy, the impoverished, the educated and the Illiterate all understood the symbolism of Osama bin Laden's dismal and dire act - and all of us wondered if this was the future.
On Tuesday night, surrounded by a jubilant throng in Grant Park and joined by his radiant family, Barack Hussein Obama was more than an astounding symbol to the world's citizens. His Presidency is not a momentary act in time; it is the living will of a people that has done more to reject the powers of division and darkness than any weapon ever fired by any nation that has ever existed. & It is not about Barack Obama, it is about us - our family, all of our families and all of our future families. It's about a hope for Good Times.