Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Keeping our distance?

My mind is spinning. It won't settle long enough to gather its thoughts.

I have to admit, most of what took place after the polls closed last night I was afraid to hope for. This morning when I woke up I felt lighter and more at peace with the citizens of this land. I even have a greater degree of compassion for those with whom I don't see eye to eye.

Hope. It's a powerful thing.

I suppose that's what drew me to a well-meant post: "So we have a black president. Who cares?"

The author struggled with posting the essay because she didn't want to be misunderstood. She didn't want to be perceived as attacking (or condoning) Barack Obama's fitness for the position. Yet she worried that he was only elected BECAUSE of his race.

I suppose, on the surface, I wish we could all say we don't care about race and mean that there is no ill will or stereotypical conclusions. That character and abilities matters most. And I suppose most people who voted for Obama -- especially those who crossed party lines to mark their ballot -- will say that his character and not his race cinched the deal for them.

I know it was his words that made me pull the lever above his name.

But I can't downplay the significance of his election because of the color of his skin, either, even though it may seem unfair to do so. Is it really so different to vote for a person because of their skin color as it is to vote for them because of their stance on only ONE issue?

Who am I to dissect a person's choice? We all have our reasons.

I'm just a white woman of some degree of priviledge that I really didn't earn.

And so many people with very different experiences than mine are seeing their dreams become reality.

We must remember that voting rights in this country weren't really fully realized for people of color -- some may say they still aren't -- until the Civil Rights Act of 1964 when Jim Crow laws (separate but equal) were finally abolished.

For many in the older generation -- some who may have themselves been intimidated at the polls or forced to pay a poll tax -- this day was a distant dream they never thought would come.

I for one would love to see the day when racism is behind us as a nation.

It's not today. But because of yesterday, I have hope it could be tomorrow.


Binky said...

I really had no idea till today how uplifting Obama's election could be. I was looking at the issues alone. Now I see it is much greater than that.

Not that it would change my vote. I'm still a conservative, mommy-blogging outcast. But I'm embracing the possibilities.

toyfoto said...

But you're MY kind of conservative, mommy-blogging outcast regardless of politics.

Christina said...

Thanks for posting this responce. You make some great points, and I would agree with everything you said.

I don't think Obama was elected ONLY because of his race - I believe that the majority of Americans are able to look past that and vote on the real issues. But I do feel that the color of his skin recieving this much attention is an indication that race is still given too much importance.

But this is a huge milestone, and I suppose it's to be expected that it draw this much attention the first time. Hopefully it has paved the way for a future in which we truly can say that racism is a thing of the past.

"It's not today. But because of yesterday, I have hope it could be tomorrow." Well said.

toyfoto said...

You didn't really say that, true; I suppose I was reading more into your thoughts about how voting based on his skin color - either for or against - is wrong.

I think Obama was very logical when he was asked that question. He intoned those voters will even themselves out.

I really believe that race - as a factor in lead up to this election - was very subtle during the campaigning, but it was there.

The newspaper headlines, and the talk of it now that he's won are celebratory.

When you asked "who cares," I just wanted to be one of the people who raise their hand. I care. And I just know the people waiting in lines to buy multiple copies of newspapers for their children to have in a scrapbook care. The little boy who wakes up this morning and thinks he really could be president, cares.

Fairly Odd Mother said...

Said beautifully. Tomorrow seems even closer today. Hope is a powerful thing.

Anonymous said...

In my country we have a female president. Sure she was not elected only because she is a woman, but you can't go without noticing she is not a man like presidents used to be. For us it was a very big thing that a woman could ever reach so high and get there. It still is, even though in years we have got used to it.

I guess it is something similar now with Mr Obama. He is the first one. In the post-racial future it won't be news anymore but now it is. And it is good news.


Kelly said...

The 'who cares' struck me as a bit flip. The author is right in that we're not a color-blind society. We do focus a lot on race.

But my feelings more closely mirror those of the black journalists (Eugene Robinson, Juan Williams) who I watched so intently on election night: they could barely contain their awe and emotion. When you consider that it was barely 40 years ago that the voting rights act was passed so that black people could vote without fear and intimidation, it becomes that much more astounding to see what we as a nation have done. We overwhelmingly voted in the first black president.

Journalists will move on from this, but in my mind, it deserves some focus...some truly wonderful focus.

toyfoto said...

This is what not caring looks like to me.