I’m not a big Obama supporter. I haven’t been from the start. But tonight, when the country spoke with a loud voice that they not only wanted change, but they wanted a black man to lead them…I’m not ashamed to tell you that tears streamed down my face.
I did a lot of my growing up in the suburbs of Washington, D.C. where I can’t remember not being in a racially integrated community. I’m forever grateful for that. It has had an affect on how I look at the world. I could never understand why people discriminated because of race. For being an asshole, maybe, but not for race or any of those other things that the more singularly minded sometimes lean on to make themselves feel superior.
It might be surprising to know that I was always sure that America would elect a black president. I grew up in a time of Roots and The Man and other stories that fostered this optimism; I figured it was only a matter of finding the right person for the job. I’ll confess that the search took a little longer than I thought it would, but I think that time has come. More importantly, America was ready. Maybe not so much the “Bible belt” (judging from the electoral map), but the rest of the country was ready.
The fact that this new hopeful generation, one that carries with it echoes of JFK and Camelot, has a capacity to be both color and gender blind can’t help but give me hope as well. That so many could rise up and slough off the yoke of an old way of thinking is what brought tears to my eyes tonight. The still-segregationist America I was born into, the one that was only just starting to emerge into a land for ALL the people, has finally evolved into one that judges the quality of a man not by his skin, but by his character.
I’m proud that the America that could elect a G.W. Bush had the capability to change…though it was close. I can only hope that this new political generation continues to pick a wise course, one of informed choice instead of knee-jerk reliance on old ways of looking at the world.
So now the new political age begins. In a heartbeat, America’s standing in the world has improved, and that will help the new president. I’m hopeful that the new voters hear the words of the new president, as they did 48 years ago, and rise up to help instead of sit back and receive. For this to work, Americans will have to use their new opportunities to create the American they…we…can be proud of.