Before a crowd of thousands of mainly 30-somethings at a Celebrate Brooklyn Festival concert in Prospect Park, the legendary Bedford Stuyvesant born and raised rapper Big Daddy Kane adorned in an immaculate white suit minus the flat decided to expound on the meaning of President Barack Obama’s victory in the November 2008 election.
“We now have a black man as president, something that some people thought would never happen” Kane informed a sympathetic crowd that applauded approvingly. “That means no more excuses…I don’t wanna hear all this about the white man is keeping me down.”
I doubt that this signals Kane is poised to join the chorus of conservatives and a minority of liberals who have interpreted the results of the November election as evidence of death of racism or watershed moment finally ushering a new era post-racial of bliss in the U.S. But on that Saturday night many people in the audience probably agreed with him in knowing that Obama’s win meant that at least some things we otherwise suspected and that the country has become less racist than it was maybe 20 years ago.
I of course, wondered how do you square this with other facts of American life. Blacks and Latinos are more than twice as likely to be stopped, searched, or arrested by law enforcement officers as are whites. Or the fact that even when they had similar credit scores blacks and Latinos were more than likely to be pushed into higher cost home loans than whites. Or how children of color attend poorer perfoming schools than do white children that are also chronically underresourced and underfunded.
I struggled to make sense of it all as Kane was sermonizing.
But by the time he got into “Ain’t No Half Steppin‘” I was onto another thought.