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.