By Graham DanzerSpecial to CSMS MagazineThe presidential race continues on towards what could be, as shown in recent polls, the first black president in American history. The question then becomes, if we have a black president, does that mean that black people will be represented any more then throughout other times in history? Thus far, promises have been made time out of mind to the black community for safer streets, better schools, civic consciousness, equality under the law. Such has thus far been little more rhetoric for the majority of Black America as most predominantly black communities continue to be plagued by crime and poverty, dilapidation and despair, as has been the case for 200 years.Though conditions have improved in terms of law and equality alleged to be underneath, drive through virtually any black neighborhood and then a white neighborhood, and the experience quickly brings forth evidence of due process of law, the 14th amendment and other “advances.” The difference is obvious. Drive through the black community and note where you find law and medical schools, hospitals, large business enterprises, and the other tenants of opportunity. All too often the only remnants of commercial life are liquor stores and pawn shops intermixed with cracked concrete, a saddening gray hue in the air, paint flecking from the walls of 100 year old apartment complexes. Such is often the case today as it was 50 years ago, as it was 100 years ago. The lynching and back of the bus requirements have all but ceased, though measurable outcomes of true revival of the black community are not often found. Advancement has been the case for a relatively smaller group of Black Americans who see the often prevalent absence of opportunity tin the Black community and escape it for college, or a job search far from the auspices of the black neighborhood. The requirement for success thereby that black people in search of opportunity leave the black world for the white world. The challenge becomes how to stay connected to one’s mother black community while living white in the eyes of the black community. Should Obama win the presidential campaign, such will be the hot ticket—whether he stays black in the white world and truly makes an effort to restore a lost vitality in the community with sorely needed after school programs, job training, and incentives for continuing education. Or will he be another symbol of equality championed by integrationist enthusiasts; changing little for the all too often future of the black man rotting in prison and his woman at home struggling to be mother and father to his child running the streets of the neighborhood to the finish line where his father lies in wait. Not every time that is the truth, but there is enough to make some in the black community even weary of the Civil Rights movement, Brown v. Board of education, Affirmative Action. Triumphant in language and spirit, but where-in lie the results for the average black family today. How many who believe their constitutional equality under the law and the government predominate even a handful of their present day experiences? The fork in the road of the train tracks is often daunting—to lay suffering in the mother community or to leave it for the very side of the tracks that too often offers nothing but a false sense of security, a mirage or an illusion. Often entering the white world becomes a way out of poverty and plight, a chance to overcome obstacles and such. But when one from the black community finds this opportunity to succeed in the white world more so than in his motherland, how does he do so? How does he adapt to the language, the clothes, and the mannerisms as such of the white community and still remember who he really is? As is the challenge for black people in search of more than the deprivation that is all too often found close to home, such will be the fight for our president-to-be. He often presents on television with promises and pledges, speeches and smiles. Without action, they mean nothing. Something often learned in harsh corners of the ghetto is to keep “your-out” to watch those around you and to stay alert for who might be coming to take your possessions, your pride, or worse. Life for those in the street can be a jungle, but it teaches its survivors to trust little and watch everything. Such is the harsh reality of the streets, as will be the harsh reality for Obama. Regardless of what he says, he will be judged on what he does. Talk is cheap, action is expensive. Expensive in the sense that taking money from the wealthy white community and funneling it into the poor black community will alienate corporate sponsors, high-end private donors, those who would be as responsible for his victory as he is himself, if it is to happen. They would despise him and call him traitor. He would be shunned. He would be cursed. He would be slandered. He would be disempowered. He would be treated as his brothers for hundreds of years. If he puts up with it all so as to stay black in the white world—at least as a black man—he would be used to it. Even if the world he knew called him traitor, he would know he was loyal.Also see Love and Tolerance: a gut-wrenching story Safe Again: The compelling story of Bobby The Powerful Voice of Your Vote: Six-Years and Out Note: Graham Danzer is writer who lives in San Francisco. He wrote this piece exclusively for CSMS Magazine. Mr. Danzer also holds a master’s degree in Social Work. He is our new collaborator.