I know the honeymoon period over President Barack Obama seems to have passed in the eyes of most Americans (his approval rating is now 44 percent). But in the black community you’re still likely to hear talk about how much Obama’s election has meant to African Americans–particularly, young African Americans.
The notion is that now that Obama has become the most important person in the land, black children all across the United States finally have been shown that they can do anything. To me, that thinking is still too small.
Let’s look at some examples of other black folks who have achieved legitimate HNIC status. Despite how you might feel about the economy or executive compensation, we can look no further than the five black CEOs (yes, these are the only ones) who are running Fortune 500 companies:
- Clarence Otis Jr., CEO of Darden Restaurants, which runs Olive Garden and Red Lobster
- Kenneth I. Chenault, CEO of American Express
- Rodney O’Neal, CEO of Delphi Corp., one of the world’s largest automotive parts manufacturers
- Ronald A. Williams, CEO of health insurance giant Aetna
- Ursula M. Burns, CEO of Xerox
So does this mean President Obama’s election should not hold any historical, racial or emotional significance to the black community? Never. What this does mean is that when we now tell our kids that they can become anything they want, let’s expand the horizons of their occupational dreams by showing them there are plenty of tangible opportunities for black people in America. Just a thought I wanted to share.