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Web Letters | The Nation

Obama Won. Now It's Time to Change the System

Our gallant knight

I wonder if people realize the enormous pressure the president has been under since day one. People comment about his graying hair and that he looks much older because of saving the country from a Depression, managing two wars after he was elected, saving the US automobile industry from collapse, and all his battles with Congress; but there is one area of pressure too many people and perhaps almost all white Americans cannot and will never be able to understand. That area is being the first black president in our nations history.

Most decent people wanted the president to succeed, but there are millions who would have been happy if he did not so they could say, “See, they don’t have what it takes” just as they doubted black’s abilities to play baseball, quarterback a professional football team and manage a professional sports team, or be a mayor or Congressman or owner of a large business. Barack Obama has had the eyes of the entire world on him since he was sworn in.

Every nation knows about our country’s racial history and the pressure each day on our president has been enormous. If a Deval Patrick or a Cory Booker, or another black person becomes president some day they will have it much, much easier than President Obama has because of all the expectations and hopes people had for him and because of all the people hoping he would fail. After Arthur Ashe contracted the AIDS virus he was asked, ‘Is this the hardest thing you have ever experienced in your life?… And he replied, ‘No, the hardest thing I’ve ever had to deal with is being a black man in America.”

No amount of economic crisis, no amount of wars our country is involved in, and no natural disaster or terrorist attack that happens can equal the daily pressure our president faces because of our past and current problem with racism. In our nation’s history no other president had his place of birth ever questioned or his ability to command the military questioned, and no other president was ever told to go back to the country he came from.

Barack Obama is our gallant knight. Irregardless of whether you agree with some of his policies, he is doing his best for all Americans every single hour of every single day. The burden he has on him because of the color of his skin will never go away, but he has borne this burden with courage, decency, humanity and strength, more than any person has done before. Others cleared the path he rode to victory, from the Tuskegee Airmen, to Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, Medgar Evers, Rosa Parks and thousands more, but the elegance of our gallant knight, his demeanor, his poise and his inner character should give all of us, black and white, strength, as well as hope that we can some day eliminate all the vestiges of hate towards people of color too many of our citizens must endure every day.

Our gallant knight may be appreciated for all the many accomplishments and wonderful things he has done for our country, but above and beyond all the bills that were signed and above and beyond all the wars that he has ended and conflicts that he has resolved, he has borne the burden of expectations because of his race with incredible grace, dignity, and humanity, and I for one, a white, Jewish American, am thrilled that he is our president and that in my lifetime I had the honor of experiencing this time in our nation’s history.

Mark Jeffery Koch

Cherry Hill, NJ

Nov 20 2012 - 11:11pm