By now you know that Barack Obama has been the first African-American to be elected President of the United States. I would never have thought I would see this in my lifetime. America has a deep and not too distant past of ugly racism. It wasnt long ago when you could lynch an African-American without fear of reprisal or prosecution, when people were murdered for the simple act of trying to register African-Americans to vote, when an African-American boy was murdered for nothing more than being accused of whistling at a white woman. African-Americans were not allowed to sit at the same lunch counter or drink out of the same drinking fountain as white Americans. It wasnt until the 1970’s that Oregon finally repealed the laws that made it illegal for an African-American to own a home. Martin Luther King Jr. was shot for encouraging African-Americans and all Americans to dream of a more perfect Union.
That racism is not in the past. America still has a lot of racism, just look at how John McCain and Sarah Palin ran their campaign. Barack Obama has a funny sounding name so you should be afraid of him, he “pals around with terrorists”. Their campaign tried to insinuate that because Obamais African-American with a Muslim sounding name that he was somehow associated with terrorism and was not a “real American”, and that “real Americans” should be afraid of him and of what his Presidency could mean for the country. Colin Powell talked about this in his endorsement speech and there are videos on youtube of people standing in line at McCain/Palin rallies with racist signs or monkey dolls with Obama stickers attached.
That we as a nation somehow rose above this, all this, gives me a feeling of pride in this country. That we still can choose to live up to the ideals in our Constitution, that we can choose to live up to our better selves. Obama was right when he said that only in America is his story even possible. That the child of a man from Kenya and a mother from Kansas, raised by his grand-parents in Hawaii, could seek and be elected to the highest office in the land.
I’m not saying that I think starting tomorrow everything will be perfect. Obama and his administration have inherited a whole host of problems: the economic crisis, 2 wars, Gitmo, torture, America’s tarnished reputation, etc. It’s a whole clusterfuck of problems that are not going to be easy to solve and which will take time to solve. We’re going to be screwed for a good long time economically. I do breathe a sigh of relief and am grateful to know that smart people are going to be in charge again. And the fact that if something (god forbid) happens to Obama, Sarah Palin will not be our next President.