Monday 21 January 2008

I have a nano-dream

Is America Ready?

As observers of the US Presidential Primaries from afar one hears the question time and again.

Is America ready for a black president?

Is America ready for a lady president?

Frankly, I am still not sure – there are still many White Anglo-Saxon Protestant (WASP) males clamouring from every chandelier that can bear their weight that they are the best to run the country – it would take the amazing force of democracy for all these people to defer to these imponderables.

The Grand Old Party still has not been able to produce anything radical, somehow between the strongman, the broker, the preacher, the actor and possibly the mayor, someone might emerge to reset America to its norm.

Little of the great dream

In the week that commemorates the birthday of Martin Luther King born January the 15th but which is celebrated as Martin Luther King Day, falling on the third Monday of January one has to wonder about the dream that the great man had.

So far, I see one amongst multitudes in every place, it is not like a floodlight over a whole area but a flickering flame way out in the dark.

In government, it is the lone Condoleezza Rice who is the only major African-American figure on the guest list attending the 2008 Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum, Davos, Switzerland and she would be delivering the opening address.

In entertainment, Oprah Winfrey stands out a beacon of amazing success and an opinion leader because of the media platform she heads.

In business, Stan O’Neal was the lightning rod for the sub-prime crisis at Merrill Lynch and he left with a suitable golden parachute. Kenneth Chenault heads American Express and Richard Parsons heads Time Warner.

The noose is back

The list is hardly exhaustive, there are popular African-American personalities but very few that have an exceptional and outstanding profile – so recently, the top-most sportsman – Tiger Woods – through no fault of his apart from his success got associated with that symbol of American white supremacy – the noose.

It first made an appearance in 2007 with the Jena 6 when “three white students hung nooses from a tree at Jena High School, after a black student asked permission from a school administrator to sit under the tree”.

This act was dismissed as prank and it lead to the beating of a white student by other black kids, court cases, a seeming miscarriage of justice and protest marches reminiscent of 40 years before.

As a result of these protests a noose was found hanging from a door at Columbia’s Teachers College. The noose if may know was one of the means by which barbaric savages in white skin lynched African-Americans up until the 1960s.

According to the Tuskegee Institute, lynchings between 1880 to 1951 took 3,437 African-American victims and 1,293 white victims - such savagery.

Caught in a Noose

So, Kelly Tilghman in idle banter with Nick Faldo on the 4th of January on The Golf Channel and in response to his joke that younger players should gang up on Woods said, “Lynch him in a back alley”.

Somewhat inferring that Tiger Woods is unbeatable on the field of play but it stirred up a lot more that the flippant comment could have realised. She was suspended for two weeks, she also apologised for the comment.

However, a fuse had been lit as Golfweek magazine made a cover of the episode with the title “Caught in a Noose” and the picture of a noose. They are sorry.

Oh! Brother. Is the overwhelming success of any African-American in danger of being caught in a noose?

I fear that on Martin Luther King Day 2008, we remember that he had a dream and so far, the fulfilment is very much a nano-dream.

The realisation of that dream is still a long way off – as for the two questions I asked at the beginning of this blog – the answer is NO to both, but there is more at work than the few can control – We would definitely end up with either.


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