The response to the call of "Yes, we can" was the election of Barack Obama to the highest office in the land. It's amazing when you figure that a whole lot of people who've never even had a black boss have proven ready for a person of color as president.
But as the euphoria of the night turns into a Vegas-style buffet of harsh realities, we have to ask: Though America seems ready for a black president, is Black America really ready for a black president?
Sounds a little strange, sure. Emotionally, obviously. But what about practically?
Obama ran as a post-racial candidate. During his campaign, he suggested replacing race-based affirmative action with measures weighted toward socioeconomic factors. He gave a Father's Day speech encouraging black dads to be more engaged. And for his trouble, he was reward with an offer of castration from Jesse Jackson.
Which, as an aside, makes me wonder if on election night Jackson was crying tears of joy, or if he was getting misty-eyed because he knew his day was done?
Obama isn't alone in inciting ire for extolling personal responsibility. Comedian Bill Cosby delivered his "Pound Cake" speech on the 50th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education and claimed that not all blacks were "holding up their end of the bargain." In return, he was accused of being a race traitor. As if self-reliance equaled self-hatred.
Sorry, but not waiting for somebody else to get it done is a value that brought people of color up from slavery, through a failed Reconstruction and Jim Crow, to the shared experience of this past Tuesday.
The fear for some is that Obama's election will start people thinking, "Hey, guess we can roll up the civil rights carpet." Hardly. Let's face it: There are gonna be bigots in America for the foreseeable future.
But the cry of the Old Schoolers that American is a racist nation begins to ring hollow. In the era of Obama — along with Oprah and Condoleezza Rice and Colin Powell and Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick and business executives Dick Parsons and Ken Chenault and on and on — are those who've made bank flogging the victim stick ready to quit talking about who needs to be cut where and start admitting that yes, we can?
There was a text message sent around before the election that read: "Rosa sat so Martin could march. Martin marched so Obama could run."
Well, Obama was ready, willing and able to run for all of us. Are all of us ready for him?