It is both ironical and paradoxical that the inauguration of Joe Biden as the 46th president of the United States of America was held a few days after the nation celebrated the birthday of the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr.
Ironical because one of the goals of King, expressed repeatedly in his iconic speeches, was the coming together of the Black and white races. He spoke of his dream of one day Black and white girls walking hand in hand with each other. But Biden was inaugurated at a time when the racial divisions in the nation was at one of its worst points, with the new president and the African American vice president being sworn in among the greatest militarized security of any president in history, through fear of attacks by white supremacists.
Paradoxical, because despite the growth and threatening presence of anti-Black sentiment in America, the election of Biden and his vice president, Kamala Harris, was largely the result of the fulfillment of one of King’s mission—the empowerment of the Black race through it taking full advantage of the right to vote.
King, as America’s tireless civil rights leader, fought for and saw the Voting Rights Act become a reality in 1965. It was primarily the votes of Black voters in states like Michigan, Georgia, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, and brown voters in Nevada and Arizona that culminated in Biden being inaugurated on January 20.
It must never be lost in the account of American history since November 3, 2020, that the unfounded allegations of fraud surrounding the presidential election victory of Biden-Harris was predominantly because Black voters had the audacity to resist covert and overt attempts to deter them from voting. It must be indelibly recorded that the more the noise soared to deter the Black vote, and the stronger the attempts to place hurdles in the path of Black voters, was the more Black and Brown people were determined to vote. They stood and remained to vote in long lines in the cold, the heat, in the rain, and in the midst of a deadly pandemic. When they saw there were attempts to hijack their votes if they opted to return their ballots by mail, they found ways to bypass postal offices and long routes to take their ballots directly to electoral offices across the nation.
The awesome power of the Black vote stunned an establishment that sought to mastermind an election victory by marginalizing the Black vote. But the old establishment failed, and also failed in their dishonest attempts to taint and nullify Joe Biden and Kamala Harris’ election as stolen.
Again, let the history of America record that the 2020 presidential election was not stolen, but was won because Black and brown voters, like the mighty race Marcus Garvey, another legendary civil rights leader heralded, rose up and bested the desperate efforts of the white establishment.
Let history also record that with Joe Biden and Kamala Harris’ inauguration, and the commencement of their administration, the influence of Caribbean Americans has risen several notches. Several Caribbean Americans, including Vice President Harris, Susan Rice, director of the White House Domestic Policy Council; Kirsten Clarke, assistant attorney general of the Civil Rights Division; and Karine Jean-Pierre, principal deputy press secretary, are now prominent members of the new administration. It is almost certain as more information is released as to those who make up various aspects of the administration, it will be learned that it includes other people of Caribbean ancestry.
Despite the high-security threats, bred by an avalanche of lies and blatant racism surrounding the Biden administration as it settles to lead a nation bitterly divided, and embroiled in a series of problems, there are positive signs for the combined African- and Caribbean-American communities—the Black community.
The role of this community does not end with the role played in electing Biden. There’s now a much more challenging role for the community to be involved in securing the success of the administration. The community has a responsibility to ensure the administration meets its obligation to the voters who elected it to office and support the administration when it seeks to implement policies beneficial to the welfare of the general community. But the community must not be reluctant to be strong critics of policies that are determined to not be in its interest.
Joe Biden and Kamala Harris’ inauguration signals the beginning of a new and welcomed chapter in American History. After four years of division and attempts at sharp separation of the nation’s races and classes, there is renewed hope that the incoming administration has the strength, wisdom, and courage to pull the country together. This, however, cannot be accomplished only by the efforts of the incoming administration. It’s going to take the efforts of every American, every community including the Caribbean- and African-American communities which together were largely instrumental in getting Biden-Harris elected.
The Biden-Harris administration provides real opportunities for the Black community to entrench itself firmly in American society and history, notwithstanding the current threats, but it is going to take much collaborative work, effort and even sacrifices.