By Vernon A. Williams, Gary Crusader
First, let me make it clear that this is not about Indiana’s new governor, Eric Holcomb, though to make my point, details of his gubernatorial ascent are relevant..
This is about the core reason most white Americans really get misty eyed when they recite the pledge, sing the national anthem and pay homage to the flag – and why many African Americans don’t always share the same level of devout patriotism.
Don’t get me wrong. In the words of Langston Hughes, “We too sing America.” This is the greatest nation on earth and progress in Black America is distinguishable. But we’d be fooling ourselves to say the average Black person has just as much reason as whites to proclaim, hand-over-heart, that there is “…liberty and justice for all.”
Back to the Indiana governor. A year ago, Eric Holcomb was a struggling GOP candidate for the senate. He lagged substantially behind opponents in fundraising and faced the political juggernaut of being a virtual unknown in Indiana though working at top levels of the Republican Party in the Hoosier State the previous 10 years.
His inauguration last month climaxed a meteoric rise to power that movie-makers would reject as being far too implausible. Put simply, Holcomb is governor because Mike Pence was selected running mate on the GOP presidential ticket last July. Holcomb, 48, was his handpicked successor; virtually assuring victory in the candy apple red Hoosier State.
Now, Holcomb sits in the governor’s office without an established political record or any experience in elected office. The. November election win over Democrat John Gregg was his first as a candidate for any office.
It was a perfect storm. Holcomb was the choice of Pence last March to become lieutenant governor, replacing Sue Ellspermann who resigned to become president of Ivy Tech Community College. Holcomb was prepared to be Pence’s re-election campaign running mate until Trump revealed his surprise V.P. selection.
Even more ironic is the fact that Pence was considered by many pundits to be on the verge of disaster in his reelection bid because of a nation controversy relative to the LGBTQ community. We will never know whether Pence could have survived another run because Trump pulled him out of the fire.
Behind in every poll, most people viewed the Republican ticket efforts as an exercise in futility. Similar to Holcomb’s inexperience—the soon-to-be President of the United States had no history of elective, appointed or voluntary public service.
Contrast that with the bar set for the first African American president; a standout Harvard Law School graduate, dedicated community servant in Chicago and a U.S. Senator. Barrack Hussein Obama had to compile stellar credentials to achieve the highest office in the land while his successor gets OJT (on-the-job training).
The playing field for Black Americans has never been level.
It would be ludicrous not to acknowledge that there has been monumental progress. NAACP workers down south tell one another, “You may not get all you pay for – but you will definitely have to pay for all that you get.” All three of these people – Trump, Pence and Holcomb – were on the edge of political doom this time last year. Now they are among the most powerful leaders in government.
There you have it. Three monumental illustrations of miraculous uplift within a few months. I challenge you to find a single equivalent for a Black American in the history of the country. The so-called angry Black man or woman isn’t stressed out by choice. The plethora of obstacles, double standards and bigotry nurture that frustration.
Adding injury to insult, some whites argue that they are the victims and that the scales tilt to favor people of color. That is, at best, an alternative truth (aka bald-faced lie). Comedian Chris Rock put it best telling a predominantly white audience that none of them would trade places with his Black skin in this society – not even if the switch included his fat bank account.
Look at what happens when Blacks do rise to power. Mr. Obama speaks to Congress and is heckled by a southern lawmaker calling him a liar. The Arizona governor points her finger in his face. A TV host leads the charge of the so-called “birther” movement, forcing him to prove citizenship. Congress obstructs every item President Obama presents.
The only Black in the U.S. Senate last year, Tim Scott (R-South Carolina), lamented that in one year as a national elected official, he was pulled over by D.C. police seven times.
After five years in Congress, a guard at the gate forced him to show identification to enter the Capital building. “I have felt the pressure applied by the scales of justice when they are slanted. Recognize that just because you don’t feel the pain or anguish of another does not mean it doesn’t exist.”
CIRCLE CITY CONNECTION by Vernon A. Williams is a series of essays on myriad topics that include social issues, human interest, entertainment and profiles of difference-makers who are forging change in a constantly evolving society. Williams is a 40-year veteran journalist based in Indianapolis, IN – commonly referred to as The Circle City. Send comments or questions to: [email protected].