Election of our nation's first black president is delivering an unexpected message to our black population.
Blacks are discovering that what a man or woman does -- their actions -- is what matters, not the color of their skin.
It seems ridiculous to point out that this was supposedly the point of the civil rights movement. Purge racism from America.
But blacks themselves have been the ones having the hardest time letting it go.
It is not hard to understand why black Americans were happy that a black man was elected president of the United States. It was kind of a final and most grand announcement that racism has finally been purged from America.
But for the highly politicized parts of black America this was certainly not the only message. Because for the highly politicized parts of black America, the point has always been to keep race in American politics.
For black political culture that dominated after the civil rights movement, the point was not just equal treatment under the law, but special treatment under the law. Plus the assumption that more black political power -- defined by more blacks holding office -- would mean that blacks would be better off.
In other words, post-civil rights movement black political culture embraced an agenda exactly the opposite of what the civil rights movement was about. Its agenda was to get laws and policies that were not neutral but racially slanted and to put individuals in power based on their race and not on their character and capability.
So, according to the script of this political culture, election of a black man as president meant more than an end to racism. The conclusion had to be that if the man holding the highest political office in the nation was black, it must follow that blacks would be better off.
Now blacks have a dilemma. We have a black president and blacks are worse off. Not just a little, but a lot worse off.
In the words of longtime Congressional Black Caucus member Maxine Waters, D-Calif., "Our people are hurtin'.."
Blacks now grapple with two possible conclusions.
One, our black president is a traitor to his race. Our struggles put him in power and now he's not taking care of his folks. He's become, in the words of left wing professor and activist Cornel West, a "mascot" of Wall Street.
Or, two, that the man's performance reflects his views and his capability, not his race. He's not delivering for anyone. Blacks are hurting more because they were already in worse shape when Obama got elected. Bad policies hurt the weakest the most.