November 4th, 2008: Yes We Did. The “change we can believe in” is finally here, it’s arrived, it’s been democratically implemented, and it will take effect on January 20th. All over the nation, and all over the world, we rejoiced, we saluted the end of a white pseudo-meritocracy that had driven the economy and social statu quo into a wall. Barack Obama represented a fresh, young, and black new face away from the same old decrepit ones sitting on Capitol Hill. It was a bit idealistic, if not downright utopian, to believe that Barack Obama’s election would change everything. It is certainly not going to sign the end of racism, it won’t fix the economy within a matter of weeks, and it failed at bringing equality regardless of your sexual orientation. Social issues are still dividing the country, despite the new Democrat-elect spreading a renewed socialism in his weekly address. I want to believe that Barack Obama has the necessary cards in hands to really change what needs to be in complete overhaul. One thing’s for sure, though – it’s going to be tough, and it’s going to be painful. Just ask Kaylon Johnson.

Kaylon is the man in this picture. Kaylon Johnson works and lives in Shreveport, Louisiana, as  an appreciated and efficient IT guy in the local Obama office. However, quoting the LA for Obama blog, “On Saturday night at a gas station in Shreveport, he was accosted by two white males who were yelling racial slurs, incensed by the Obama bumper stickers on Kaylon’s car and the Obama t-shirt Kaylon was wearing. He waved them off, but when he came out of the gas station, they jumped on him. Kaylon was badly beaten and has sustained several head injuries. He will have surgery on Friday to repair a broken eye socket, broken nose, and torn tear duct.”

This is what you get, in 2008 America, for expressing your opinion. This is what you look like, in 2008 America, for Driving While Black and dangerously supporting a black politician – who happens to have been elected by the majority to lead the country for the next four years. This is what is really scary – Johnson was not even supporting a marginalized extremist politician whose views could have been offensive to a major part of the american population (say, Sarah Palin before August 2008 for instance). Johnson was just showing his support for the President-Elect. He wasn’t doing it aggressively. He had a bumper sticker on his car, which seems to justify being violently brutalized and disfigured. I personally have no recollection of ever repeatedly punching the owner of a “Honk if you love Jesus!” sticker. I didn’t even tailgate them; I didn’t even made any rude gesture as I drove past them. I respected their point of view, mind you, as impossible and rare as it may sound, this sticker did not offend me in the slightest. Kaylon Johnson, however, was beaten up for behaving like a free man. A free black man.

It was indeed a very strong statement the American population made on November 4 when they collectively decided to put their trust into Barack Hussein Obama, Senator of Illinois, during these incredibly hard times. Despite the humiliating and degrading smear campaign orchestrated by the hard core of the GOP, calling him a terrorist and mocking his middle name, the majority of the population saw through this disgusting cover-up and decided competency mattered more than the color of one’s skin. But what does it mean when even supporting the president, supporting the majority, supporting a nationally and internationally-approved political vision is not enough to fit in?  If those two shitheads wanted to place the blame of Barack Obama’s election onto Johnson’s head, because he was black and because he was so openly supporting his leader, so be it – but a huge chunk of Obama’s electorate happens to be white, or hispanic, or latino, or asian. Obama’s electorate is as diverse as he wanted it to be. Obama’s electorate goes from Joe The Plumber to young graduates, from Irish-Americans to Native Americans, from first-voters to old ladies pushing to their hundreds. The only real beautiful thing to learn from this election is the way Obama managed to rally such a heterogenuous base, to mend fences and cross bridges. It’s impossible to stigmatize one category of the population for this.

Kaylon Johnson was badly hurt because he was less ignorant than his attackers. Kaylon Johnson was beaten up because he exercized his constitutional rights.  Joe Strummer was right. “You have the right to free speech … unless you’re dumb enough to actually try it.”

I wish I could say Louisiana and its backwards ways is to blame for what happened to Kaylon Johnson, but this is far from being an isolated case. Barack Obama may have succeeded where everyone thought he’d fail, but it also woke up the primal, irrational hatred that had been sleeping off inside some people who thought they had reached a social statu quo – coexistence through segregation. Now they feel threatened by a black leader, it’s time to re-assess the status of fundamental freedoms: what are they and who really possess them? If you’re scared to look at the score, you should be.

You can email Kaylon at obamashreveport@gmail.com to show support. Also consult the KSLA News report with a Kaylon interview, and the CNN iReport by Jasmine Whitehorn. All thanks to roastchicken on ontd_political.

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