Tony Wafford (File photo)

I woke up a couple of days ago and it hit me like a ton of bricks.  Damn near everything that I read in the newspapers or see on television, seems to be talking about age and how old is too old; and just what is too old?  Isn’t it funny how different cultures value, devalue or perceive older people?  I’m asking this question because an old white man running for president or being the president of the United States isn’t a new phenomenon.  I would argue that until recent history, the most familiar fragrance coming out of the Oval Office has always been Bengay.

Just think about it.  The poster child for republican conservatism is Ronald Reagan, the guy that was 77 years old at the end of his tenure as president, and he was knocking on the door of 78 and I don’t remember anyone on the republican side arguing that he was too old when he left office; hell, most republicans wished that he could have served a third term, which would have made him the same age as Biden is right now.  And here we have a 74-year-old carnival barker, acting as a petulant child needing to be in time-out—having the unmitigated gall to talk about age being an issue.  Oh!  I just got it!  They are looking at his behavior, you know the silly name calling, mispronunciation of words, lying when the truth will do, and his love for quarter pounders with cheese, which can make you seem more like a 14-year-old rather than a 74-year-old—so I get it! Work ‘em Donny boy!

Can you believe this?  This same group of people that sees Biden as being too old clearly can’t do math.  To elect Burger Boy would be to have an 81year old president in office at the end of his first turn.  I guess the old white man that YOU like, is better than the other OLD white man, so age really isn’t the issue, right?  Was that childish of me…. smile?

Did you know that the average age of a US Senator is 63-years old, while the average age of the members of the house of representatives is around 58 years old; and some of these people are what they would call freshmen.  I don’t know about you, but ain’t nothing fresh after being open for 58-63 years, but some things do get better with time.

So why am I bringing this up?  Because as a people, we (Black people) have always celebrated, respected, honored, and paid homage to our elders.  It’s only when we started acting more American than African, that we began to question and devalue the contribution of our elders. Now I don’t know about you, but the best advice I’ve ever received came from my mother until the day she joined the ancestors at the age of 81 years old.  It was her wisdom, life experiences and counsel that I depended on in helping me navigate through some of the most turbulent times of my life.  And five years after her transition, I’m still to this day, having conversations with her, seeking wise counsel.  I respect and value the knowledge of those that came before me; after all, one of my greatest heroes once said, “Of all our studies, history is prepared to reward all research”, el-Hajj Malik el-Shabazz; Malcolm X.

What makes this all so crazy is that you cannot earn a high school diploma or college degree without not only knowing more than you will ever need or wanted to know about old white men, but you must commit their deeds, repeat their quotes, celebrate their actions before being affirmed through the Academy and in many cases, being respected in American Society.

So why am I bringing all of this up?  Because I pray that we (Black people) don’t get caught up in the foolishness of the dominant society’s views and values as it relates to older people.  This may seem like no big deal but if we are not cognizant and conscious of our own views and values as a people, we will find ourselves doing things that are truly not in our best interest.  Dr. Maulana Ndabezitha Karenga said it best when he said, “The greatest power your oppressor has over you is to define reality for you and have you accept it even when it’s not in your best interest.”  Remember, these are the same people that are doing all that they can to erase our history while at the same time making it a prerequisite that you not only know theirs’ but also to respect, celebrate it and will look at you crazy if you take a knee during the national anthem.

The other reason for bringing this up is because I don’t want us to confuse our duty to our ancestors that fought and died so we could have the right to vote, and to use American foolishness as our reason for not participating in the electoral process.  Is it a perfect system?  Hell no—neither is the church, but many of us still go because we have faith in God, not the building.  Our people fought and died with the hopes that America just might be a better place one day.  I refuse to dishonor the legacy of my ancestors and their sacrifice and just sit at home, on my ass, knowing the importance of their sacrifice!  I have a duty to get out and participate with the hope and belief that I can make this country a better place for my children, grandchildren, and future generations to come.  Mary McLeod Bethune said, “If we have the courage and tenacity of our forebears (ancestors), who stood firmly like a rock against the lash of slavery, we shall find a way to do for our day what they did for theirs”.  So, Black people, what you gonna do?