Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Yes, He Did

Yesterday, to raise a black child in this world, you had to know the fine art of instilling hope and optimism while teaching reality and skepticism.

Yesterday, my people went to work and took tiny steps toward their individual goals with the dreams, blood, sweat and tears of our ancestors in the back of their minds, clothed in the garments, hair and sometimes the speech of the people we thought we needed to be like in order to succeed.

Yesterday, apathy was the order of the day.

Yesterday, wrong was right and morals were left behind.

Yesterday, you could not have convinced me that real, defining change will take hold of this nation while I am alive to see it.

Yesterday is gone.

TODAY, children like my soon-to-be nephew will be born into a world where it's normal for people of color and women to be as much in power as white men.

TODAY, black parents can say, "You can be president someday if you want to" and they - and their children - will believe it.

TODAY, being a black male who does well in school will be greatly admired instead of teased.

TODAY, there is no more "talking white" but just the respected ability to communicate.

Hear me, my friends. This win is a win for EVERYONE but first and foremost, for me, this win is the breath of life MY people needed. I do not say this to keep the racial divide alive. I say it because we are part of this country - helped to build it - but we were sick and tired and angry and hopeless and divided among ourselves. We, as a people, needed to be reinvigorated in order to be on one accord with everyone else, thus making us able to celebrate with you instead of feeling animosity toward you. The chain is only as strong as its weakest link. African-Americans are one of the links and Barack Obama, along with his beautiful and intelligent wife, Michelle, helped strengthen us for the sake of the whole.

You want to know the beauty of this miraculous event? Even those who hate the thought of this man as president will get to reap the rewards of us working together and choosing to set aside the things that make us different (and, by the way, special) and focusing instead on the things that make us the same. One of those things being this country we live in. Whether you are rich or poor or black or white, don't we ALL want the best for our children? Don't we ALL want to lead lives of purpose and fulfillment as well as have the option to just do whatever the heck we we want to do sometimes? Don't we ALL want to retire while we are healthy and have the money to do so? Don't we ALL want to be able to go to the doctor when we are sick and not when we are too desperate to wait another second? Don't we ALL want to know peace?

It's no question that I guarded my heart with this man. I saw the possibility of him winning becoming more and more real but I know all too well that we can get close and have victory snatched away. I needed to hear them all say - Barak Obama is the 44th President of the United States of America. Then I could let it go. I would only then be free to tell all of you who don't really know just how much it hurts a parent to place any limits on their child, even though that was never the goal. For their safety, you had to surround them with bumpers, constantly hovering to catch them in case they fell into the wrong situation. Now, we only need to say, "Yes, you can."

Suddenly the playing field has been leveled even for those of us that have already been in the game for a while. Even better, this man's election simply removed blindfolds for many of us because the way it should be was the way it could have been all along if we took the time to recognize it. Toto, I don't think we're in Kansas anymore and thank God for it!

This man is the best in ALL of us. His family is the picture of how a family should be. His marriage is the definition of support no matter what. His cool demeanor is alllll jazz, baby. And we are babies in this world, finally learning to walk and the rest of the globe is supporting us. That too feels good.

Black people. Remember the determination our enslaved forefathers and mothers carried on their backs, never to be beaten away? Remember the struggles for common humanity our grandparents reminisced about with that sadness in their voices? Remember the sacrifices our hardworking parents made, forcing many of us to be latchkey kids? Remember that Dream Dr. King so eloquently spoke into history? Though we could feel it, we couldn't see what was in their heart but here it is. This is it. This is that dream personified. Now we all know.

I wish I were a fly on the wall of the gangbangers' lair. I wish I were a little birdie on the windowsill of the incarcerated brothers who know better but chose worse because jail is preferable to the streets or to a minimum wage job. I wish I were a goldfish in the bowl of that black frat house, hearing them mull over this new road that has opened before them. A freshly paved road that takes them to a moral high ground that was once too treacherous to climb.

So why did Obama win, the critics ask?

Because even the people who thought they were beyond the power of cynicism were dragged into the depths of frustration that too many of us already live in daily. Even the ones who did not know or did not choose to acknowledge that the price for equality was more than most people could afford, found out that when one of us gets hurts we all suffer. God allowed the blind to see and the marginalized to find hope again. Obama won because he pointed the way out and enough people realized it would be stupid and self-destructive to not listen.

Listen to this video. Over and over. Hear those voices in unison. Allow yourself to feel that hope, people. And resolve that you too will make the sacrifices needed to advance us all.

It's a brand new day folk. And I am so very, very proud to be an American right now. I am even prouder still of our children for whom ancestral memory is clearly intact and who heard this call, answering with a resounding, "Yes, we can!"

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