Having elected our first African-American president, we are missing a great opportunity, America and Louisiana, to show that we have truly changed our attitudes when it comes to race in America. It has long been suggested that we no longer need affirmative action, minority set-asides, or any special government programs in order to ensure minorities equal treatment under the law. OK, let’s just say for the sake of argument that this is true, and we are all on equal footing in our democratic society. Why then can’t we, all Americans, at least acknowledge the fact that while we may not agree with every decision that the president has made, it is an awesome accomplishment to have for the first time in our country’s racial history an African-American in the highest office in America.

And, if we could truly be honest, whatever we call ourselves politically, we would admit that President Barack Obama has done a good job in getting an economy that was in the tanks back on track. Economically, we are doing better than when he took office. In truth, he’s done worse in the mouths of his enemies than he has in practice.

When I was a child in the 1950s, my teachers told me and other little “negro” boys (which is what we were called then) that we could someday be the president of these United States, but in reality, I don’t know if we really believed it ourselves. And even if they did somehow believe it, I wasn’t convinced that it was a possibility. Maybe I was much like Chris Rock in the movie “Head of State,” who asked, “president of what?” But now, America, you did just that. You showed little black boys that it is indeed possible. You showed that WE CAN look beyond the racial divide that has separated us for far too long and judge a man by his character and not his skin color, thank you.

In conclusion, and putting aside politics, can we at least begin to acknowledge this great achievement? You should be PROUD, America, and you too, Louisiana.

Ralph McMahon


Baton Rouge