Yes, we can
Yesterday, I hopped online to check out what some of my favorite reads had to say about the election results. It was inspiring to see so many people celebrating this historical moment. The funny thing is I couldn’t come here and put into words just what I was feeling. I have commented before an Obama Presidency will mean to me that despite all the campaign negativity & racially motivated ugliness most Americans can see the truth through all the lies. This country has made great strides towards racial harmony, but the road ahead is long and treacherous. Barrack Obama is a courageous jumping off point for the next leg of this journey. That America is finally sick & tired of being sick, tired & BROKE. We are ready to do away with what’s been in control for the last eight years. We see someone that is compassionate enough, intelligent enough & willing to get the job done. We have someone that is not blowing hot smoke up our asses and promising to do the impossible but someone that promises to everything in his power to make it better for as many people as he can. That our children (Black, Latino, Asian, Native American, and even White) have someone to look up to that started in a single parent home, worked damn hard through school to become lawyer and community organizer. Maybe our children will stop looking to athletes, rappers, and actors as their main source of role models. All of that is true but when I try to vocalize what I feel deep in my gut, it becomes a lot harder.
The first time I was called “nigger” I think I was in the first grade and someone I considered a friend called me that for some reason. Even at the tender age of 6 (maybe 7) I knew that word was meant to hurt and degrade. I remember going to the librarian crying and telling her what Pa.cer (yeah, he wanted everyone to call him Pa.cer like the car and he was calling me names) had said. Of course he was disciplined and I believe there might have been a classroom talk about words you shouldn’t use. The details are fuzzy, but the feeling I had from that word will probably stay with me forever. There are two other times I can remember being called that and one time where someone wrote nigger go home on a wall by the school cafeteria but each of those time I was stronger (although one time I did cry because I was so angry). Its easier to stand up for yourself when you’re 12 than when you’re 6, and it was easier at 15 & 17 than it had been at 12. Overall, despite the fact that I went to a semi-rural school my brushes with racism were infrequent. I didn’t have to fight for my right to go to school there; I was not left out of school activities because I was black and I didn’t have to fear for my life because of my skin color. Even as an adult I’ve experienced prejudice. I’ve been told that “you’re not like most blacks” or the famous “you don’t talk like you’re black.” Now I’m able to react not just out of anger but rationally (but if I’m truthful my comebacks are usually made to make the offending person feel small, heh so sue me).
It’s been 25+ years since that first time and the world has changed for the better. Beana now goes to the same school I went to and has made it all the way to the 3rd grade without being cut to the quick because of that word. I’ve wondered when I will have to have that conversation with her about why some think they are better than others because of skin. It came up a little bit during the election but the “buzz word” was Muslim not black. To me it’s a half dollar of one 6 of the other. So Tuesday night as I was crying during Obama’s acceptance speech I realized that although I’m only in my early 30’s I didn’t think I would ever see this in my lifetime. So as I celebrate the achievements of President-elect Barack Obama, I also celebrate the achievements of those that came before us and now when I tell my daughter (and any future children we might have) that with hard work, perseverance, and a thick skin anything is possible; I can & do actually believe it.