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The transition from Mr. Obama to Mr. President - Joel Hall

With a week before the inauguration of Barack Obama as the next president of the United States, I have to admit, I'm getting a little bit anxious. Only when Obama is sworn in, with the Holy Bible, will the last two-and-a-half years be real to me.

I can remember only a few years ago sitting in a college dorm room watching Chris Rock in the movie "Head of State," and thinking a black president was a noble, but somewhat novel idea. Obviously, the powers that be would never let it happen. I kept thinking "The Man," from the Wayans Brothers film, "Don't Be a Menace to South Central While Drinking Your Juice in the Hood," who snuffed out every aspiring brother in the movie, would quickly come for anyone who tried such a thing.

However, the powers that be made this happen, and that has been the most interesting thing about this whole election. Despite the hundreds of death threats, and the ongoing calls for Obama to prove that he is not an Islamic terrorist from Indonesia, Obama has been able to kiss babies, eat blueberry pie in local diners, and do all the things we are used to seeing presidents do.

Despite the fears I've harbored all my life if this very thing were to happen, I am beginning to feel like things are going to be OK.

While we need to be ever vigilant, I no longer believe Obama needs to be transported to every location by helicopter and protected by a Popemobile. If we all do our jobs as citizens, I think the president will be able to do what great presidents have done in the past -- lead us into a better future.

One idea, which I am supporting wholeheartedly, is that I am going to have my local Federal Bureau of Investigation office on speed dial. If I hear or see anything that is the least bit suspicious or threatening to the president, I won't hesitate to call.

Another thing I am encouraging everybody to do, is stop kicking people when they are down. If you see somebody struggling, offer to give them a hand. If someone at the grocery store is having a hard time, because their food stamp card won't go through, instead of hating them for being poor, volunteer to pay for their groceries.

As fewer people feel desperate, fewer people will be inspired to do desperate things, like go after the president.

Obama is bound to make some mistakes, and there is no doubt that some people will attribute that to his race. The bigotry expressed by some in reference to Obama's win proves that Obama's skin tone will be an issue for some, whether Obama finds a cure for cancer or robs a gas station.

In the same instance, there will be some people who will say that Obama can do no wrong, because of his race. If Obama were to find himself in some unsavory position, as some past presidents have, there are some who may say he's "just keeping it real."

People of all races shouldn't let race cloud the way they judge our new president. You can be forgiving, and hold people to a high standard at the same time. People do it with their family members all the time.

I will celebrate on inauguration day, like a lot of other Americans, with the coming of president Obama. However, I am looking forward to the moment things simmer down and Obama simply becomes "Mr. President."

Joel Hall covers government and politics for the Clayton News Daily. He can be reached via e-mail at jhall@news-daily.com.